The overall goal of cloud computing and storage is scalability. When you don’t need to worry about your onsite hardware to keep growing, then the offsite management you receive allows for fast deployment and lower upfront costs to meet demands. This relationship might force companies into third-party relationships where some elements of data are outside of their direct control, but it also allows for fewer staffing needs.
Even for companies that don’t see cloud computing and storage as the future of business technology, the fact that enterprise-level tech becomes affordable is tremendously advantageous. Anyone can compete at levels that were once considered unattainable. Some businesses run their entire operations in the cloud.
Specific disadvantages must be considered as businesses look to gain potential benefits from this setup. That’s why a complete review of the pros and cons of cloud computing and storage is essential before making an investment.
List of the Pros of Cloud Computing and Storage
1. Cloud computing and storage usage provides offsite management.
When businesses decide to start using the cloud for their storage and computing needs, then it provides the advantage of off-site, online assets that another agency must physically maintain. This structure frees up enough attention for other local priorities for the company, especially when a strong relationship with a reliable vendor forms at a reasonable expense.
Some businesses use this advantage to let their cloud computing and storage provider manage their data logistics. That might include information protection, backups, and any form of physical security that may be necessary for a successful result. Even configuration, setup, and acquisition tasks can get delegated to the cloud.
2. Connectivity improves through cloud computing and storage design.
Another significant benefit that companies see with cloud computing and storage involves connectivity. Users within the organization can use this structure to access or share information freely at any time. This advantage occurs from any device at any location where access to the Internet is possible. Even data-enabled smartphones can become a place where productivity can happen.
This advantage is possible because the cloud connects a company in ways that premise-based storage solutions cannot provide. Benefits from this advantage can include gains in operational efficiency, agility, and a reduction in the time it takes to go to the market.
3. Cloud computing and storage improves the speed of business.
When cloud computing and storage receives support from the correct enterprise-level technology, the speed of access an organization receives rivals that of onsite structures. Assuming that a 1-gigabit pipe is available for use, companies could use 15 servers that back up data simultaneously to create a transfer rate of 975 megabytes per section. That rate moves faster than a standard 5,400 RPM HDD, and it’s only a little slower than what a 7,200 HDD provides.
Cloud computing has some work to do when comparing speed options with SSD technology, but this advantage still keeps a business positioned to be competitive.
4. Rapid deployment is possible through cloud computing and storage.
Moving to cloud computing and storage bypasses the trouble that companies experience when attempting to add physical storage. It is no longer necessary to request bids from vendors, evaluate storage needs, or choose products that work with the current infrastructure. Purchase orders, delivery wait times, and asset assembly become problems of the past. A business can make the decision to expand their storage needs today and see results begin to appear within 24 hours.
5. Higher levels of scalability are possible with the cloud.
A move to the cloud allows a company to have access to virtually unlimited capacity. Expansions will have a cost to them, but it is usually cheaper than what it would take to create onsite physical storage. That means any corporate can grow at the rate of business with the flexibility of being able to decrease after a surge if needed. This advantage won’t impact the performance of access either, allowing for a seamless transition to whatever needs are necessary at any given time.
6. Cloud storage is immortal for modern business.
Instead of managing a massive tape library or a storage array, companies can move to cloud computing and storage to receive data immortality. Organizations gain the advantage of bypassing the cost of continuous hardware upgrades as the industry evolves. The third-party provider of storage services must take on that risk instead. That means each business can reduce the risk of missing an expected ROI from their investments in this sector. Their storage components are often upgraded in the background so that the information management structures are never obsolete.
It is still possible for third-party providers to lose data after it has been saved, so this advantage isn’t a 100% benefit. The risks are much lower, and data loss could result in monetary payments based on the contracted cloud computing and storage services.
7. Moving to the cloud has a lower upfront cost.
Managing physical storage can be an expensive process. You must evaluate, purchase, build, and provision each element of the infrastructure before it becomes usable. Moving to cloud computing and storage takes all of those costs out of your hands immediately. Businesses usually have peak periods that require a specific amount of storage to handle those moments, but up to 95% of it isn’t needed at any given time.
That’s why a third-party provider offers cost flexibility. You only need to pay for what you use, and the service comes with reporting that helps to monitor your activities so that you don’t go over your budget.
8. It offers improved disaster recovery to organizations.
When a company moves its data to cloud computing and storage, then that decision can make its disaster recovery efforts easier to complete and less expensive. Most organizations set their system to backup data automatically so that losses are minimal if something unexpected happens. That means an episode that involves the compromise of hardware doesn’t have a cost.
If you were to store everything locally, then a complete data loss incident could occur. The organization would also be on the line for the expenses of hardware replacement or repair. It is less than $1,000 per incident when using cloud computing and storage for an emergency restoration, which is 90% less than what it would be managing local infrastructure.
9. Moving to the cloud allows for an increase in collaboration.
Organizations that move to the cloud often see an increase in employee collaboration for activities. It is much more comfortable for them to sync documents or work on them through shared apps simultaneously so that updates happen immediately instead of through a single-user process. Since any user can work anywhere on tasks, the centralized data makes it easier to offer benefits like telecommuting so that productivity levels can always remain high. Even clients could access important data items because of this advantage.
10. Cloud computing and storage offers environmental benefits.
When an organization moves to cloud computing and storage over localized infrastructure, then a reduction of carbon emissions and energy consumption occurs. The average savings is more than 30% for operations that occur in the United States. If a small- to medium-sized business moves to the cloud from their infrastructure needs, then the energy usage reduction levels can reach 90%. This advantage can help startups save a lot of money during their initial days of providing services while helping to project an environmentally sound image.
11. It allows for multiple devices and browsers to connect.
When a company uses cloud computing and storage, most service providers don’t care what equipment people use to access information. Users can access the environment through the primary system, with a tablet, or even Chromebooks. Browsers from Microsoft, Apple, Firefox, and others are all compatible with these services. That means an organization can save money by incorporating a bring-your-own-device policy into their infrastructure, especially if the business is just starting.
12. Companies get to avoid the cost of software with the cloud.
Not only does a business get to avoid hardware expenses when they choose cloud computing and storage, but they also see a reduction in their software costs. Everything needed for information access exists on the third-party server already. That means the ongoing licensing costs go away, even if some of these expenses are built into the monthly payment or contracted amount for the relationship. Organizations always have the latest version available to them without going through the costly efforts of an upgrade every time.
Users aren’t limited to the number of licenses issued to the product. Organizations can add whatever employees they want to improve collaboration while staying within the same cost structures. Everything in this area is predictable based on the terms and conditions of the contract.
List of the Cons of Cloud Computing and Storage
1. Companies can experience higher lifetime costs with cloud computing.
When you invest in physical storage for an organization, then there can be a hefty upfront cost. Cloud computing and storage is often cheaper at first, so that can make it an investment that’s immediately tempting. As you use it, the costs become cheaper every year that you can keep the infrastructure usable. At some point, you pay off everything and can keep using your local hardware.
Going to the cloud is different. You don’t need to pay for upgrades, but your monthly costs are always going to be present. Some organizations see their costs increase over time when applications are local while data stays in the cloud. There can also be issues with increased latency because of this disadvantage.
2. Cloud computing and storage comes with some security concerns.
When an organization gives data to a public cloud provider, then there are privacy and security concerns to manage. The risk of a breach rises each year, with incidents across almost every service provider being reported between 2017-2019. Less than 5% of employees say that sharing files outside of their office setting follows a process that is secure and private.
This disadvantage means that you can’t store anything sensitive in the cloud. Companies are forced to run a dual system where their intellectual property remains on local infrastructure while everything else goes to the cloud. Managing permissions, vendor access, document synchronization, and a lack of auditing trails are all potential problems to manage because of cloud computing and storage.
3. Speeds can slow down when moving to the cloud.
The bandwidth of an organization, or its download and data speeds, is another potential disadvantage to manage with cloud computing and storage. Although this technology achieves some excellent results during benchmarking, it often takes more time to upload or download needed files.
There are two reasons for this disadvantage. The first is that the cloud provider manages traffic from multiple companies so that server access is limited. Then the second issue involves the ISP and the number of clients that are online at any given time. Shared connections always slow down in the middle of the day.
4. There can be compliance issues with cloud computing and storage.
Some industries are regulated to such an extent that moving to the cloud is unworkable. Any company operating in financial services or health care will want to review their options very carefully before implementation to ensure trouble doesn’t have a chance to develop. Publicly-traded organizations must proceed with the same level of caution.
Regulatory compliance can be a complex subject with cloud computing and storage because of third-party involvement. If multiple groups have possession of the data in question, then each jurisdiction might have specific reporting needs to follow.
5. A busy business can adversely impact others.
When one user with high IO traffic or a cloud application takes up too many resources, then those activities can adversely impact other users. This disadvantage can occur with individual teams, across departments, or even at the enterprise level. The only way to manage this problem effectively is to have your IT managers look for cloud computing and storage providers that offer resource isolation. When you can avoid mingling one user’s data with others, then you can still achieve the speeds needed to create a successful outcome.
6. There is a heavy reliance on Internet connectivity with the cloud.
Having business applications and storage opportunities through the cloud is great when everything works correction. If you cannot maintain a stable connection to the Internet for some reason, then you lose almost all of the benefits of cloud computing and storage immediately. This issue also impacts all of your service providers. Even the best servers don’t have 100% uptime, so any ISP or power outage will adversely impact business operations, even if the incident doesn’t impact the physical operations of the company.
It is imperative to have a backup plan in place if you opt for cloud computing and storage so that you can stay productive until your connection returns.
7. Some organizations may not be eligible for cloud computing.
Companies must have enough bandwidth to qualify for cloud computing services in the first place. DSL and satellite connections might not provide enough speed because of the latency levels they create. That means the advantages of using this service tend to stay with urban or suburban organizations, while rural companies must invest in onsite storage if they want to stay competitive.
As installations of broadband increase around the world, this disadvantage will continue to disappear. Until that happens, there may be issues with video streaming, uploading large files, or printing documents through the cloud.
8. Cloud computing contracts are sometimes non-negotiable.
Companies can say the right things and perform the correct actions to get someone to sign on the dotted line. Once the agreement is in place, the quality of services might go down dramatically. As long as the terms of the contract get met, there isn’t much that an organization can do about its decision until the cancellation date comes along.
If a cloud computing and storage provider wants to lock a business in for an agreement that’s longer than five years, then the terms and conditions should be carefully reviewed. Being stuck in a bad contract can be more expensive than installing all of the technical infrastructures.
9. If your provider goes out of business, you might lose your data.
When Nirvanix went out of business in September 2013, the company’s clients had to scramble to get their data out of the cloud quickly. Some of the organizations made it, but there were others who lost everything. If a company decides that cloud computing and storage is the right way to go for their needs, then there must be a plan to retrieve any information stored by the third-party before using the cloud. Then you can implement this plan should the worst-case scenario occur.
10. You lose the hard drive benefits when you go to the cloud.
Many cloud computing and storage applications might operate at the same speed or better than a hard disk drive, but there are times when carrying around a non-connected computer is a good thing. If organizations use extensive programs that need local resources, then moving to the cloud is an option that doesn’t make sense. You can still work anywhere you want when everything is kept on a single system as long as you have a power connection. It all depends on the job, what the current needs of the organization are, and what the future scalability needs to be.
11. Companies lose insights into their network when going to the cloud.
An organization’s services and applications run on a remote server with cloud computing and storage. That creates a lack of control over the functions of the hardware and software. If there is a bug in the code, a hardware problem that develops, or some other issue that impacts users locally, there isn’t much that can be done to correct the problem. Companies are forced to rely on their third-party provider to offer fixes instead.
This disadvantage also means that you might not have access to information about your disk utilization, processor performance, or memory capacity after creating the connects to transfer data to a third-party provider using ISP resources.
Organizations must balance speed and cost against lifetime expenses and an overall lack of control when deciding on migration to the cloud. Managing data in this manner can help companies achieve better scalability at a lower price, but it might also present circumstances where the information becomes entirely unavailable.
Most small businesses use cloud computing and storage because it allows them to compete immediately in their preferred industry. They can become immediate disrupters because of their third-party relationships, while larger enterprises can install the infrastructure needed to create permanent advantages.
The pros and cons of cloud computing and storage might provide doubts about security, but it can also create more collaboration. If a data set is essential to the continued existence of an organization, then it will usually need to be stored locally to reduce theft risks.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.