What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing, sometimes simply referred to as “the cloud,” is the practice of using remote servers to manage, store, and process data. The servers are accessed via the internet through a third party that typically charges a monthly subscription fee. Some companies have flat fees, while others only charge you for the data and storage you actually use.
Are there advantages to using the cloud?
Cloud computing has become a popular way to lower up front hardware costs because it greatly reduces the need to invest in powerful personal computers and expensive data storage. The cloud makes it possible for small companies to access powerful computing resources that they would otherwise not be able to invest in.
Cloud computing has also grown in popularity as businesses become decentralized, eschewing traditional office spaces and data centers in favor of flexible, remote workforces.
While moving to the cloud may be a tempting prospect for many small business owners, there are still plenty of reasons not to make the switch.
10 reasons not to switch to the cloud
1. You no longer oversee your data security and privacy
When you put your information onto a remote server, you surrender the protection of that data to a third party. Recent events have highlighted that third party vendors are often prime targets for hackers and ransomware. Using a cloud service provider puts you at the mercy of another company’s cybersecurity and privacy protocols.
2. Long term expenses can add up
A move to the cloud often feels like the economical choice compared to the cost of purchasing your own server. Over time, however, the costs will eclipse what you would have spent on your own personal hardware. Line items and additional fees tacked can result in sticker shock when the first bill comes due.
3. Reliability is not guaranteed
When reliable access to your data is dependent on a third party, you are beholden to the stability of their service. If your cloud provider experiences a blackout or downtime, then so does your company.
4. A local server can still be faster
Some applications simply run better locally. If your business depends on apps that have a high demand for bandwidth, a your own hardware will provide better performance. Companies that work with video, graphic design or computer/3D modeling will experience frustrating performance if they switch to a cloud-based system.
5. Subscription models can be stressful
Because cloud service providers bill monthly, some companies find that a lean month or two can spread resources thin. Having to skip a month of service due to a budget mishap could snowball into financial disaster. Difficult months may be inevitable, but maintaining your own data ensures that it will always be there when you need it.
6. Cloud computing is a whole new world
Cloud computing is still a relatively new technology. Most IT departments are staffed with professionals who are deeply experienced in traditional hardware. A change to cloud computing could potentially throw a monkey wrench into your business operations if a hiccup arises that your IT staff is not yet prepared to efficiently address.
7. Fast, reliable internet is critical
Having a rock solid, speedy internet connection is a must for cloud computing. An unreliable or slow connection can add minutes or hours to projects in wait time alone, leading to frustration and wasted time. Slow work can very quickly erase any savings one might hope to achieve with a switch to the cloud.
8. Your current setup works just fine
If your company is performing to your satisfaction using traditional, local servers and hardware then there is no reason to rock the boat by making the switch to cloud computing. The “latest and greatest” technology may improve the efficiency of some businesses, but early adoption for the sake of staying on the cutting edge is not a reason to disrupt your workflow.
9. You might not have support
With your data infrastructure off-site, you might be left in the dark when it comes to speaking with an actual engineer regarding any problems you may run into. The benefits to having an accessible IT professional in-house to discuss and address issues can’t be overstated.
10. A lack of flexibility
The infrastructure of the cloud is owned and controlled by a third party. Because of this, the customer has minimal control over the function and execution of some of the service’s backend. This lack of flexibility can shoehorn users into workflows that are less efficient than those they have become familiar with. Customers may find themselves losing efficiency due to the limitations that result from an environment that they cannot control or modify.
The cloud and the safety of your small business
The cloud is undeniably the future of computing, but it’s not for everyone. In spite of its trendiness and the potentially for savings at the onset, most small businesses would do well to continue to keep their servers and information nearby and under lock and key. Advances in both security and oversight will surely make cloud computing the standard of doing business, but for now the pioneering is best left to risk-takers and companies that are simply unable to do business any other way.
More tips to keep your data and small business safe
- If you’re staying off the cloud and sticking with hardware, you can still save money up front by purchasing refurbished firewalls or network switches from a reputable dealer.
- Password strength is paramount. Even amateur hackers can get lucky when it comes to guessing a sloppy password. Many criminals also employ a technique called “password spraying” that can break into accounts with easily-guessed login credentials.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) to keep your online activity in its own private lane.
- Say “no” to cookies. Clear the cookies in your web browser at least once a month to rid your system of traces of your online activity that hackers may use against you or your business.
11 reasons to hate the cloud by Peter Wayner, InfoWorld, 4 January, 2021
10 Commonsense Reasons to NOT Move to the Cloud by Robert Sarkes, Geek911, 22 February, 2019
Reasons why most enterprises haven’t embraced the cloud by Achim Weiss, TechBeacon
8 Reasons to Fear Cloud Computing by Sara Angeles, Business News Daily, 27 December, 2015
Disadvantages of Cloud Computing by Andrew Larkin, Cloud Academy Blog, 7 August, 2019