Cloud computing - the IT press would have you believe it's not just the next BIG thing, there's only Cloud, Cloud and more Cloud on the horizon. And it's raining down SaaS (Software as a Service) subscription fees.
Yet back in the real world, things, as things are wont to do, work just a bit differently.
Let's take a quick look at Cloud - as it applies to the SMB market (that's Small to Medium sized Businesses).
First the press. In a recent column, Forbes Editor Rich Karlgaard delivers a brilliant piece on excelling in both the 'hard stuff of business' like Siemens saving millions by moving to cloud computing as well as the 'soft stuff of business' which is more on the creative side, customer experience, etc.
Then you can research other cloud articles such as ZDNet's entire Cloud section, devoted to all things Cloud.
And there's also Airstream Foods, an AFS client located in Long Island, NY - scene of the recent Hurricane Sandy episode that left Airstream's server room under several feet of water. However, since they'd recently adopted a Cloud strategy, the affected servers were safely humming along, hundreds of miles away in a secure facility.
And while your business may be safely out of the hurricane zone, until Sandy, no one really looked at NY or NJ in the same category as Gulf Coastal Florida or Alabama when it came to hurricane risk - point being, we need preparation for both known, and unknown risk in our IT infrastructure.
Meanwhile, back in the boardrooms of our SMB's, companies are constantly deciding on whether to adopt SaaS models of software licensing and Cloud models of server deployment.
I've been personally involved in probably 30 such decisions in the last three years - 8-10 decided on Cloud, 15 or so went to the standard purchase, owned server model and the rest are still avoiding any decision.
So what are the obvious decision points?
But where should we look? If breakeven is truly about three years, how is Siemens saving millions with Cloud strategies? What's the buzz really based on?
It's a combination of factors - but it's also looking at all the factors in totality.
Let's take them one at a time:
Concluding Cloud Musings
So - today you have a server room full of servers, stocked with software, integrations, programs and more. Is it cost effective to add that one new program using SaaS and Cloud deployment?
There may be reasons - perhaps it's sales based and our sales force is mobile and would necessarily use the internet to log on - or it's client facing and all our clients access it from the internet anyway.
But as for breakeven, don't look for immediate savings on a single application in the Cloud.
However, going forward you should carefully consider whether it makes sense, at the end life of your current equipment, to transfer the entire IT backbone to a Cloud deployment.
So as you make your assessment, make sure you're capturing all the financial impacts of ownership versus Cloud and get a fuller picture of the savings or cost in your particular environment. It's worth the time to have a software consultant spend a few days on site performing a full assessment.
Gene Hammons, MBA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Trends Fads Bubbles and Bashing. Take a couple hundred Geeks and give them typewriters, you'll never get Shakespeare, but what you will get is the Technology Press - here's where we sort it all out to see if there's any 'there' there.