General Benefits of Consuming Cloud
Cost Savings - With the Cloud, you could lower capital expenditure by not having to purchase and maintain expensive hardware. A Cloud service provider can host your data on their own high-performance systems, and you will no longer have the expense of maintaining and upgrading them either. Instead, Cloud users can concentrate on improving their own products and services. In addition, there is also the potential to either reduce headcounts in areas of server and application management, or to re-allocate those staff to research and development or more strategic business roles on the technology side.
Try Before You Buy, With No Lock-ins - Companies can test Cloud services before they fully subscribe to them to make sure they are up to the job. They can test some existing and established applications in the Cloud, or they can build and test new applications using a Cloud provider and its pay-per-use model. After a beta phase in the Cloud, the process can be scaled up or you can walk away, it's up to you. But remember, once your applications are being run in a managed Cloud hosting scenario you have continued access to support.
Supporting Utility Computing - Companies need to allocate budgets and expenditure in precise ways, but to be able to do that they have to know what their departments are spending. The Cloud offers a great opportunity to do this on the technology side, as the Finance, HR, Sales or Marketing departments, for instance, can purchase unique applications in the Cloud which can be directly billed to them. Instead of one large, chaotic IT department being responsible for the purchase, deployment and management of all applications used by all areas of the business, the HR department, for example, can be responsible for the cost of a Cloud-based staff self-service people management system. This makes for good accounting for the overall business and takes the pressure off the central IT department, allowing it to concentrate on mission critical areas like network security.
Reliability - The worst aspect of hardware failures isn't usually the cost of the kit to replace, but the resulting downtime. When maintaining your own servers or data storage systems downtime is inevitable, meaning there is a threat to your business data. The Cloud model dictates that all types of potential failure are considered, whether that be related to hardware, timeouts, failover faults or network problems. Multiple copies of data are maintained for you, so if any machine fails your whole system can continue to function without the cost of extensive downtime.
Data Security - Whist data security is often cited as an obstacle to cloud adoption, the argument can however be turned on its head. As mentioned above, multiple copies of an organisation's data can be stored in the Cloud using a Cloud provider's systems, so there is no reliance on a single on-premise corporate data storage network, with the resulting business continuity risks that come with that. Cloud providers usually comply with industry data security standards to match, or exceed, whatever a Cloud client complies with themselves. Even if organisations want to maintain their main data systems themselves, they can still backup and replicate those systems securely in the Cloud at lower cost, without having to maintain their own additional Data Center.
Improved Integration and Compatibility - The big data needs of organisations means they must be able to access and analyse data stored across different platforms. In turn, this demands close integration and compatibility between those platforms. However, it often isn't easy to get Linux machines to share data with Windows machines, for example. With Cloud computing the emphasis is on data extraction and not operating systems. Cloud providers can use industry standards such as Apache, PHP and MySQL to eliminate the compatibility issues organisations come across whilst running their own servers.