Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Computing

There is no doubt that businesses can reap huge benefits from cloud computing. However, with the many advantages, come some drawbacks as well. Take time to understand the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing, so that you can get the most out of your business technology, whichever cloud provider you choose.

Advantages of Cloud Computing

Cost Savings

Perhaps, the most significant cloud computing benefit is in terms of IT cost savings. Businesses, no matter what their type or size, exist to earn money while keeping capital and operational expenses to a minimum. With cloud computing, you can save substantial capital costs with zero in-house server storage and application requirements. The lack of on-premises infrastructure also removes their associated operational costs in the form of power, air conditioning and administration costs. You pay for what is used and disengage whenever you like - there is no invested IT capital to worry about. It’s a common misconception that only large businesses can afford to use the cloud, when in fact, cloud services are extremely affordable for smaller businesses.

Reliability

With a managed service platform, cloud computing is much more reliable and consistent than in-house IT infrastructure. Most providers offer a Service Level Agreement which guarantees 24/7/365 and 99.99% availability. Your organization can benefit from a massive pool of redundant IT resources, as well as quick failover mechanism - if a server fails, hosted applications and services can easily be transited to any of the available servers.

Manageability

Cloud computing provides enhanced and simplified IT management and maintenance capabilities through central administration of resources, vendor managed infrastructure and SLA backed agreements. IT infrastructure updates and maintenance are eliminated, as all resources are maintained by the service provider. You enjoy a simple web-based user interface for accessing software, applications and services – without the need for installation - and an SLA ensures the timely and guaranteed delivery, management and maintenance of your IT services.

Strategic Edge

Ever-increasing computing resources give you a competitive edge over competitors, as the time you require for IT procurement is virtually nil. Your company can deploy mission critical applications that deliver significant business benefits, without any upfront costs and minimal provisioning time. Cloud computing allows you to forget about technology and focus on your key business activities and objectives. It can also help you to reduce the time needed to market newer applications and services.

Disadvantages of Cloud Computing

Downtime

As cloud service providers take care of a number of clients each day, they can become overwhelmed and may even come up against technical outages. This can lead to your business processes being temporarily suspended. Additionally, if your internet connection is offline, you will not be able to access any of your applications, server or data from the cloud.

Security

Although cloud service providers implement the best security standards and industry certifications, storing data and important files on external service providers always opens up risks. Using cloud-powered technologies means you need to provide your service provider with access to important business data. Meanwhile, being a public service opens up cloud service providers to security challenges on a routine basis. The ease in procuring and accessing cloud services can also give nefarious users the ability to scan, identify and exploit loopholes and vulnerabilities within a system. For instance, in a multi-tenant cloud architecture where multiple users are hosted on the same server, a hacker might try to break into the data of other users hosted and stored on the same server. However, such exploits and loopholes are not likely to surface, and the likelihood of a compromise is not great.

Vendor Lock-In

Although cloud service providers promise that the cloud will be flexible to use and integrate, switching cloud services is something that hasn’t yet completely evolved. Organizations may find it difficult to migrate their services from one vendor to another. Hosting and integrating current cloud applications on another platform may throw up interoperability and support issues. For instance, applications developed on Microsoft Development Framework (.Net) might not work properly on the Linux platform.

Limited Control

Since the cloud infrastructure is entirely owned, managed and monitored by the service provider, it transfers minimal control over to the customer. The customer can only control and manage the applications, data and services operated on top of that, not the backend infrastructure itself. Key administrative tasks such as server shell access, updating and firmware management may not be passed to the customer or end user.

It is easy to see how the advantages of cloud computing easily outweigh the drawbacks. Decreased costs, reduced downtime, and less management effort are benefits that speak for themselves.

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