How Can You Tell If Your Business Is Ready For The Cloud?

Ready For The CloudContrary to what some people might have you believe, the cloud isn’t something that just anyone should dive into. Not every organization stands to benefit from cloud computing, nor can every business successfully adopt a cloud model. If you make the jump before your organization is ready to support it, you’re basically just hurling money into a pit – you’ll gain nothing, and lose a great deal of capital in the process. Suffice it to say, that isn’t a mistake you want to make.

So how can you tell if your business is among those that should implement the cloud?

“A strong partnership between IT and business units, operational agility, and a knack for modeling new technologies to fit unique business needs are critical in order to make the most of cloud computing,” writes Rik Fairlie of Forbes.

According to Harvard researcher Arun Sundararajan – the co-author of a study that Farilie himself cites in his piece – one of the first things you’ll want to look at is your internal culture – and yes, the culture of an organization most definitely does influence whether or not it’s a good fit for the cloud. In particular, you’re going to want to pay close attention to the sort of relationship your IT department has with the rest of your business. Is it one of partnership and mutual respect, one of indifference, or one of borderline antagonism?

If it’s anything but the former, that could spell trouble for a future in the cloud.

No less important is your business’s agility – something which culture contributes heavily to. Ask yourself how quickly you typically implement new innovations, provision resources, or commit to new applications. If it typically takes your business a while to adopt new technology (and even longer to distribute it internally), then you’re probably going to have to do some significant restructuring in order to make things work.

Of course, no matter how agile, innovative, and well-organized your business is, there’s still a chance that the cloud may not hold any value for you – particularly if you go in without a plan. For that reason, it’s incredibly important that you ask yourself what it is you’re looking to gain from the cloud before you go in – and identify which areas of your organization will see the most marked benefits. Otherwise, you’re going to be flying blind – which is never a good thing.

Are you looking for a more efficient means of developing, testing, and deploying your applications? Do you want a more effective avenue through which your team can collaborate with one another? Are you simply looking for some extra infrastructure that readily scales whenever you need it?

Take a close look at your finances, as well. While it’s true that the cloud can often be a more cost-effective alternative, that isn’t always the case. What does your infrastructure look like? How difficult would it be to adapt it to a cloud service model? Are there any weak links you can identify? How much would it cost to fix them?

Bear in mind here – something as simple as an improperly-configured firewall can destroy any advantages the cloud might grant you, so you can’t really afford to ignore any weaknesses you might find.

The cloud isn’t some holy grail of computing, nor is it some all or nothing choice. At the end of the day, it’s simply another service – albeit a powerful one. Like any service, there’s a chance it might not be a good fit for your organization.

In closing, if you can’t see any discernable benefits from cloud adoption, don’t try to force it. There’s a good chance that your business is among those that doesn’t necessarily need the cloud. And you know what? That’s perfectly acceptable.

Image: Flickr/orsorama