Yes, you have heard it all before, that cloud is the future of business bla bla bla. But I’m telling you that it is not, at least not in all cases.
There are many different types of customers, all with different needs. Yet the major public cloud vendors of the world insist that an IT revolution is underway, where everything is cheaper in the cloud and that renewals flow like rivers of money.
The problem is, some of my customers have listened to this marketing spin and now they believe it.
So, what do I do? I roll my eyes and ask what they mean.
The first thing I need to know is what they think the cloud is because then we can have a discussion and start to break down specific needs and misconceptions. Because once I start to explain the pros and cons of each option, customers think twice about cloud.
Technically, I could just give them what they want and take their money but experience has taught me that they will end up hating it and me in turn.
In a few cases, I have done a cost comparison over five years for cloud versus on-premise for some customers — this was as much for my benefit as for theirs.
I was confused, I kept hearing cloud, cloud, cloud everywhere I turned so I decided to break it down and for the vast majority of my ten seat plus customers, it’s the more expensive option.
With some customers — but not the majority thankfully — there are implementation problems.
Some of these issues relate to old applications built for on-premise which need to be rebuilt for the cloud, but these are not the only problems we face.
If you have a 20 person environment with one server running Microsoft Active Directory, in such an on-premise environment, you can manage all the password authentication, software deployment, policies and installations.
Most of that sounds like pretty boring networking stuff to most people, but if you take it away and put it in the cloud and suddenly, each machine has to go to and from the cloud every time it needs to communicate and that can cause some technical problems.
The other issue is that we were able to provide the customer with centralised support at the server level, but now we have to go back to desktop support because each machine becomes its own little silo.
It will not always turn out better for the customer in terms of management which increases cost.
The other issue is leasing, you can buy a server for, let’s say $10,000, which will last you three years and with an extended warranty, five years at least. You put that in the cloud and for the same processing power, you are probably looking at $300-500 per month.
So let’s do the sums, that means that after 18 months to two years, you are already spending more than you would have if you bought your own server.
The other side of the argument is that with cloud you don’t need to have servers on-premise and that is a fair argument. Many companies do not want to house their own servers.
But on the flip side, you have the issue of internet connectivity. A company with a small on-premise network could easily run their business on ADSL. However, once they move to cloud, they will have no choice but to upgrade to fibre.
All of a sudden, instead of paying $100 per month for an ADSL link, you are paying $500 or more for a fibre connection.
There are all these hidden costs which the public cloud guys won’t tell you about and once you do the numbers, you realise that it doesn’t always work out cheaper.