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4 considerations for evaluating cloud computing benefits

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If you are considering adopting cloud technologies and practices, you will receive a ton of different guidance about the benefits you might see. These benefits can vary dramatically from speed of delivery to infrastructure cost savings; and they will be unique to each and every transformation. However, four basic concepts can help guide your evaluations.

Infrastructure and workloads

Many companies will sell you on their low up-front costs and pay-as-you-go attributes as significant cost savings. They’ll note the high cost of building and operating datacenters and argue for avoiding that to save money. The numbers can be astronomical depending on how you spin them: for example, this provider promises 560% ROI over five years, five and a half months for payback, $1.5 million per application over five years. However, you might not see those benefits if you have a stable, predictable workload.

SaaS and cloud dev platforms

A software-as-a-service provider may discuss saving by paying for application access versus purchasing off-the-shelf software. Software providers will add those “cloud attribute” benefits to the specifics of their software. Cloud-based platforms can offer savings for developers. According to a 2013 IDC study, a cloud platform as a service can save more than $700,000 per 100 developers.

Speed and productivity

How much is it worth to your business if you can get a new application up and running in 30 hours rather than six to nine months? The generic “staff productivity” doesn’t do justice to the capabilities that cloud dashboards, real time statistics and active analytics can bring to reducing administration burden. When it comes to productivity, consider how much does a “person hour” cost your company?

Risk exposure

Think of risk simply: What is the impact if you are wrong?

  • Is it more risky to buy all the hardware and software to create 128 virtual machines, or rent it by the hour?
  • If you are not sure your application will get widespread adoption, should you draft a 12-month plan, build the environment, write and test the code, and release it?
  • Is it better to prove value using free, or nearly free, services for a few weeks?

When the negative impact to trying new things is low, you face less risk, giving you the opportunity to try many more things. The more you attempt, the more successes you might have.
If you asked me how to benefit from adopting cloud services, my first question would be, “Which services?” Every user and every organization is going to get a different set of benefits. The most important thing I can suggest is to think across the spectrum. Evaluate the potential savings, but also think about the soft benefits: improved productivity, more speed and lowered risk.

You will miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take. How much of a benefit is it to take your shot?

Get more practical insight on the benefits of cloud computing or connect with me directly on twitter @sauerwalt.

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