Over the last few weeks I’ve been on a rather grand tour of the UK, perhaps not that grand if you’d seen the hotels … there is a recession on you know. However, I’ve been out with a lot of IT managers, talking about their problems and helping them develop solutions to various issues and what seems to come up time and again is people being convinced that a move to the cloud is the best thing for their IT strategy. I’ll also admit, in a previous blog post about my worries about the cloud – I concluded that I could see the point of it, but was uneasy about the have not’s and did feel that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy in IT.

As part of my grand tour, we’ve been working with potential and current clients and developed a more grounded opinion on the cloud/hosted solutions, on the basis of their requirements, our research and the advice we’ve ultimately given them on their IT strategies. As such, and in a true blogger style – I’m going to give you my top ten considerations when thinking about moving to the cloud…

  1. TCO – in the case of hosted telephony it is particularly important to look at the total cost of ownership. In the analysis that we do for a client, we look at the monthly cost for both an on-premise telephone system such as a Cisco BE6000 or even a Microsoft Lync server against what a VoIP or cloud provider of Lync would provide. Depending on the size of the solution – having the on-premise solution can work out cheaper!
  2. Opex vs Capex – the question of Capital Expenditure vs Operational Expenditure. In other words, do you want to pay monthly or buy outright. Quite often the rationale for hosted solutions is to avoid having to pay an up-front investment in hardware. Leasing can help you get around this for on-premise solutions, but not everyone can get approved.
  3. Assets – personally, I’m a fan of nice assets. But that point aside, the HMRC give tax relief on capital equipment purchases through an Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) so in some cases, owning or leasing an actual on-premise solution is great for minimising tax liabilities.
  4. Business continuity – everyone knows this an issue, however should your internet connections go down then what good is having the stuff running in a datacentre that you can’t reach! Likewise if your office burns down then you lose your own datacentre – though as some of our clients run manufacturing organisations, if the factory burns down, then the datacentre is the least of their worries!
  5. Connectivity – as per my previous blogs on anything internet, especially in my homeland of Cumbria, connectivity in the UK is not a universal constant and as such a move to the cloud is only good if you can get enough reliable bandwidth at an affordable price.
  6. Flexibility – if you’re a new business or a quick growing one, or even one that has to scale up and down due to seasonal variations then hosted solutions offer an advantage. Hosted telephone solutions for example mean you can move premises quickly and easily, increase and decrease as your requirements change.
  7. Data protection – in many hosted solutions you are unsure as to where the datacentres are globally, you as the business owners and managers are responsible for compliance of relevant data protection legislation, notably the Data Protection Act and in many cases whilst your local data centre may be in the UK it can be replicated anywhere across the world as part of your providers own DR policy.
  8. Good standing – with companies such as 2E2 going out of business in the UK, it is not beyond reality that after the boom of investment in datacentres over the last number of years that a provider will eventually go out of business. If you are heavily reliant on an external provider you need to exactly know what would happen to your services.
  9. Tipping point – at some point there is usually a balance between hosted or on-premise financially, in my opinion as your cost of owning the assets, licensing software etc is spread across multiple tenants in a hosted system, then there should be a sweet spot where this is a good solution – however depending on what type of hosted solution you are going for – having too few users or too many will ultimately lead to an advantage for an on-premise system.
  10. Evaluation – I mean this in more ways than one, certainly you should take advantage of the many trial periods with hosted solutions and see how they work for your organisation. However, you should also create a matrix of pros and cons, use points 1-9 of this list as a guide and score both solutions accordingly, weighting each area with your own organisational need.

Should you need any help developing a hosted vs on-premise IT strategy, then we’re here to help – call Unleashed IT on 0161 871 8730 or visit www.unleashedit.com