Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Don't get stuck in the Cloud

Cloud computing offers a value proposition based on convenient services that you pay for as you go. Customized solutions can be offered in a flexible and secure environment. Companies can offload their non-core technologies and focus on their core businesses, providing a better product for their customers.

But cloud computing is based on the premise that users will always have access to the cloud service. Managers need to ask themselves what would happen if the service were unavailable. What if the cable from their internet provider were cut or — as has happened with alarming frequency lately — the service were disrupted by hackers or technical glitches?

The key issue is access to the data. Servers and technology can be found at secondary sites, but if the data is locked in the cloud, the business's ability to function may be severely compromised. On my plane, which had no Wi-Fi, I was without access to the source data. The format of the data on the Kindle probably wasn't compatible with other devices, even if I could have extracted it and the software licenses had allowed it. I did have the data (the book) on my iPhone, but reading a book on an iPhone screen didn't appeal to me and I had no way to connect the phone to the iPad.

Cloud computing is the future. It is winning over entire industries — including traditional late adopters such as health care. The keys to success are careful planning of a migration strategy and understanding that the cloud approach is adolescent in places (remember the early days of the internet?) and that problems will occur. If you're still window shopping, it's time to start catching up on your reading about the cloud. But if you do so on a plane, remember to take a real book along, too.

Read full article by Robert Plant for HBR:

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