Last month we presented an overview of cloud services. Now let’s discuss advantages and disadvantages.
The major advantage of cloud services is that management and maintenance of these services is not your responsibility. Software and hardware upgrades are handled by the provider and are generally transparent to you aside from possible scheduled service downtime. You may see IT cost savings due to not having to pay a contractor or in-house staff for these time-consuming upgrade projects, though you’ll still need to pay for the service and maintain your office PCs, printers, and networking equipment. Since the vendor performs upgrades for you, you run little risk of your cloud-based applications becoming outdated.
The downside is that since your applications and data are hosted offsite at the provider facility, you’re completely dependent on them to maintain operations. If the provider suffers a service outage or disaster, you have no way of accessing your data. This is rare but has happened with some vendors. Most vendors offer an uptime guarantee in their service agreement. Your vendor can potentially access your data as well.
You must also maintain access to the Internet. If your office suffers an Internet outage (equipment failure, ISP service disruption, etc.) you will be unable to access your cloud-based applications or data. We recommend that any organization considering moving critical applications into the cloud maintain a backup ISP of a different service type than your primary (e.g. Cable and DSL, T1 and Cable, etc.) to minimize the impact of a local service outage.Matthew Horton, Directory of Technology