When is it time to move to a virtual solution for your business’ IT needs? To answer this question you are going to need to conduct a very detailed assessment of your business’ needs, and the particular use cases your staff and processes require. You are first going to have to determine whether you will move to a private cloud (virtualization) or move to a public, cloud computing solution.
The major questions and areas to explore will include cost: you must consider TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), along with CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) and OPEX (Operating Expenditure). While a private cloud/virtualization may be costly to setup, as you need to establish your infrastructure upon which you will build your cloud and deliver services through it, you will find the operating costs are greatly reduced when compared to a public, cloud computing solution.
Cloud computing negates the upfront costs associated with establishing your data center and so on, and also provides a consumption model for pricing, so you only pay for what you use. The issue with this is that over time, as your usage of public cloud-based services increases, your TCO will surpass the threshold above which it would be more cost effective for you to move to your own private cloud.
Cost is not the only issue you will need to deal with, as you will have to work out how you will integrate your virtual or public cloud platform with all the systems and applications you are currently running within your business. You will also need to address how you will support whatever platform you put in place – a virtual solution will require support, however a public cloud eradicates the need for you to support your own datacenter, leaving only helpdesk support for your users and their client machines to be managed.
It is typical to see businesses who are more concerned about operating costs (OPEX), with a lean IT staff coupled with reduced security needs, are more likely to look at moving to a public cloud platform. Businesses which are more conscious of CAPEX are more likely to trend towards virtualization, especially if they are running a customized set of processes and applications, and are more security conscious.
Generally, you will find that cloud-based platforms are most suitable for businesses demonstrating the following characteristics and needs:
Need Fast Deployment – public cloud platforms are essentially plug-and-play, there is no setup as such and a whole host of extras suddenly disappear when you move to a public cloud, for instance, perpetual licenses, servers, associated hardware and the software that used to run the applications you will now be accessing via the public cloud.
Consumption based Pricing Model – those businesses which just want to pay for what they use, and have total control over their costs, will most likely trend toward a public cloud offering. Typically, SaaS offerings (Software as a Service) allow you to divest yourself of a whole host of applications currently used in your business, along with the ancillary support and license costs. You also do not need to invest in keeping abreast of technology and advancements on the applications being used – that is the job of your provider, and if they do not offer best-of-breed, you simply move to another provider.
Outsourcing IT Support – with cloud-based platforms, you will rely on the provider for support, which allows you to reduce internal IT costs, or free up your IT resources to focus on other aspects of your business.
Ability to Scale (Rapidly) – cloud-based platforms allow you to scale as quickly as you need, and on a global scale if required. You will also only pay for the services you use, and only for as long as you need them, which means you can scale down without cost commitment too.