Ant Pruitt: Cloud Services and Enterprise Don’t Mix

Check out this chart. Cloud computing satisfies storage needs, but it sure isn’t right for every enterprise.

No matter how much storage space you get, some people are never satisfied. Even with cloud computing. And some enterprises should stop, look and consider before they go that way at all.

I’ve written about and compared personal cloud options from Google, Amazon and Microsoft. These options are great for those of us who want our music on the go and share photos with family members without crashing a mail server. It gets even better when you get almost five gigabytes free. Cloud storage and computing is great for a lot of uses, but is this really viable for the enterprise?

Every company has a surprisingly common goal for its daily operations:  customer satisfaction and profits. Cloud computing and storage is potentially cost-effective, but not for every business.

Service centers running custom applications to produce or manage specific products are a good example.

Just add an application to a server accessible only by secured network logins. The next step is to verify that client computers connecting to the server are essentially using a virtual desktop interface (VDI) to run the apps in real time. It isn’t always simple, though.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a centralized cloud server? What are the pros and cons of the server being on site as a private cloud versus off-site hosting? It all depends on your enterprise.

If a company has tremendous data transfers from running a transactional database, an off-site hosted server could incur high fees. On the other hand, this potentially is a less expensive option than purchasing a server blade and managing it in house with applicable licensing fees and support costs. Here’s a sample chart from Amazon’s Web Services regarding data transfers on its EC2 service.

The client computers connecting to the cloud don’t need to be robust pieces of hardware. A mid-grade processor, enough RAM to run the operating system efficiently, a VDI software package and a broadband Internet connection are all that’s required. The terminal used can be dumb, meaning all it needs is the ability to virtually connect to the central server. This is an inexpensive piece of the cloud computing puzzle.

After the cloud network schema is implemented, performance and support should be assessed. How efficient is the data getting from node to node? Businesses have to service their customer base effectively. The data has to get from cloud to client PC then to the customer on demand. Applications running in the cloud need to conform to standard formats desired by the customer base such as a .xls format. Again, this is all dependant on the applications installed on the cloud server and the licensing costs associated with it.

To a certain degree, the enterprise can benefit from using cloud computing, but that will vary for every business and its needs. Just as with any corporate decision, a thorough analysis will help determine ROI. Personal use is less risky than enterprise use. Cloud computing is a great concept, but it’s just not for everyone especially if you are an enterprise.