What’s Up with the Cloud?

Posted on July 2014 By Speller International

Whether you’re a hardcore tech warrior or a simple smart phone user, it seems these days you just can’t escape the Cloud. It’s everywhere you look. Pegged in May 2013 by McKinsey Global Institute as one of the emerging ‘disruptive technologies’, Cloud storage has become an integral part of, well, everything from your iPhone’s backup to many SAP offerings. 

So integral is Cloud to the future of SAP that just 2 weeks ago SAP ran an ‘All Cloud Connect’ conference in both Melbourne and Sydney, as part of a series of events across the Southern Hemisphere. The aim of the conference was simple: helping meet business objectives with the right Cloud strategy. 

So who does the Cloud benefit? Well, that depends on a range of variables. It is widely accepted that Cloud services are ideal for small and new businesses, but articles like this one confirm that SAP Cloud initiatives can work for even the largest businesses. 

Additionally, despite the clear cost savings, it seems companies of all shapes and sizes are turning to the Cloud to enjoy the flexibility and cutting edge technology associated with it, rather than to save money. Mark Hirst, head of SAP enterprise application services says that, of the companies SAP interviewed, “very few quoted cost savings as a factor. In fact in some cases people expected costs to increase to enable that increased flexibility and agility. Cost wasn’t one of those obvious things that people talked about achieving.” Straight from the Cloud man himself.

One of the most obvious benefits of these offerings from a strategic perspective is the ability to move slowly into the Cloud. Almost nine out of 10 of the businesses SAP talked to choosing a hybrid approach to the Cloud, merging the best parts of existing solutions with the Cloud options that suit them.

On the other hand, if your business is brand new, Cloud makes it easier than ever before to enter the market. In most situations, a new company will not have the money to purchase servers for on-premise infrastructure or metro-capital companies will not loan the new company money, making Cloud the ideal option.

What’s not to like? Well, there are always detractors, and those who are anti-Cloud cite the technology’s youth and inexperience, teamed with security concerns, reliance on internet and limited technical support as reasons for refusing to adopt. Of these concerns, perhaps the most disturbing is security, which can be breached from anywhere if a disgruntled or lazy employee allows that to happen (which, admittedly, is something that could happen with any data storage solution, just not from home). 

With these potential cons in mind the key question to ask is ‘Does the cloud application have all the features that the software does and, if not, are the missing features important to me?’ In some cases, the answer to that question will result in choosing not to adopt the Cloud for your business, and this is fair: if you have complex or industry-specific information technology needs, you may be better off with packaged or custom-designed software, regardless of what appears to be cheaper on paper – after all, with what it would take to align Cloud services with such unique and specific technology, you may be paying more in the end.

While (often ill-founded) protests about security and are inevitable with any online storage option, there is no doubt that there can be significant cost savings for a company turning to the Cloud and, at the very least, genuine improvements to service delivery. Cloud offers huge amounts of data at a user’s fingertips, offering cost-effective and rapid access without the need for costly, bulky equipment. Even when you consider the potential (and minimal) risks, it appears that Cloud’s main limitations may lie in the imagination of the user, rather than the product itself.