Evaluating Cloud Technology | Not as easy as it seems

When it’s time to upgrade your business systems and software, there are many options to consider. The first question is do you stay with an on-premise server based solution or is it time to consider a move to the Cloud?

(To clarify, my definition of Cloud is an application that is hosted and managed completely in the cloud. This means the solution will run through a browser. There are several vendors who claim to have a cloud offering however it is nothing more than hosting a remote server for you.)

As many people are reaching this stage in their business systems, I thought it prudent to share some key pros and cons of considering a cloud based solution.

The Pros

Easier to manage – by moving your application to a Cloud based solution, you completely transfer the responsibility of maintaining, supporting and backing up to the supplier. No more daily server backups planned shut downs while the server updates or worrying about viruses corrupting your server.

Free Trials – many cloud providers will provide you with free trials for a period of time or some even for an unlimited period of time, giving you the opportunity to try before you buy.

No more upgrades – Cloud based technology is upgraded all the time and unless you run a 24/7 business you won’t even know it has occurred. It is important to note that in most instances you do not have control over when and if an upgrade occurs.

Integration – As many small businesses have already made the move to cloud accounting solutions like Xero, MYOB Online or others, integration between Cloud Solutions can be much more real time, as they are always on.

Access from anywhere – One of the biggest advantages is that you can access cloud solutions from almost anywhere with an internet connection on any device. This is because it runs through a browser and therefore will enable you to run it on a PC, Mac, tablet or even smart phone. This flexibility means you can work where and when you want.

Low upfront cost – Cloud solutions are typically sold with a small implementation cost and then a monthly fee that is priced based mostly on the number of transactions or the number of users. So organisations may also only commence charging once the system is up and running. Additionally, as you do not need to purchase a server or upgrade your network there are more potential savings to be had.

Cons

More expensive in the long run – Even though the upfront costs are less, if you consider the cost of the solution over a 5 year period, most cloud offerings become more expensive than traditional on premise solutions. Additionally, the monthly fee never ends so you will continue to pay for it for as long as it runs your business.

Limited support – As cloud suppliers do not receive a large upfront payment, many have taken the opportunity to reduce the cost of sale by leaving it up to you, the customer to do all the work. This is a really important point, as the cost to you in learning, testing and evaluating a variety of solutions on your own, can be extremely high. Additionally, there may be elements that you just can’t test or evaluate as they need to be configured with payment terminals or other 3rd party systems that have a cost associated with them. Lastly, as you are left to your own devices to watch videos and read online reference material to work out how to setup and use the systems, you may end up making some mistakes, which could end up being quite costly in the long term.

Less functionality – Be prepared for fewer features and capability. More likely than not, if you are using a solution that is 10+ years in the market, a cloud based solution that will be lucky to be 3-5 years old will not have the depth of functionality of your current system. There are going to be certain features you can choose to live without however make sure that the important ones are definitely there.

Security – Although this is improving at a rapid pace, security of data in cloud based systems is a risk, perhaps not any more than your existing if you already have multiple locations and external access to your network, however it is still a risk and needs to be considered.

Reliance on the Internet – Lastly, and probably obvious to you, if you don’t have internet access you can’t access your cloud solution. In some ways you are still better off if you have multiple locations as the risk can be reduced, however, compared to a single site with an on premise solution, it certainly can be a con. Additionally, if you don’t have a particularly quick internet connection you may find the solutions perform poorly as well.

The takeaway

Changing the core systems that run any business is like replacing the heart of the business. Therefore it is critical that before you select a new solution, especially a cloud based solution that you invest the time to confirm it delivers what you need to run your business.

How Barooze Consulting can help

If you are considering a change, let us help you. We have over 20 years experience in assisting businesses evaluate technology solutions and can help structure your evaluation to achieve a more successful outcome.

Call us today 0467 800 852 or email: info@barooze.com

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