Regardless of what you call it: “Cloud Computing”, “Software as a Service”, or “SaaS”, you can get “big system” performance from it without the “big” price.  Cloud computing is fast evolving from a futuristic technology into a commercially viable alternative for companies in search of cost-effective software solutions. In fact, it is predicted that by 2012, 80 percent of Fortune 1000 enterprises will pay for some cloud-computing service, while 30 percent of them will pay for cloud-computing infrastructure. While the technology has its share of drawbacks, such as privacy and security concerns, an undeniable silver lining is turning skeptics into enthusiasts. Here are just a handful of cloud computing’s benefits:

Scalability: IT departments that anticipate an enormous uptick in user load need not scramble to secure additional hardware and software with cloud computing. Instead, an organization can add and subtract capacity as its network load dictates. Better yet, because cloud-computing follows a utility model in which service costs are based on consumption, companies pay for only what they use.

Easy Implementation: Without the need to purchase hardware, software licenses or implementation services, a company can get its cloud-computing arrangement off the ground in record time — and for a fraction of the cost of an on-premise solution.

 Skilled Practitioners: When a particular technology becomes popular, it’s not uncommon for a whole slew of vendors to jump on the bandwagon. In the case of cloud computing, however, vendors have typically been reputable enough to offer customers reliable service and large enough to deliver huge datacenters with endless amounts of storage and computing capacity.

Frees Up Internal Resources: By placing storage and server needs in the hands of an outsourcer, a company essentially shifts the burden placed on its in-house IT team to a third-party provider. The result: In-house IT departments can focus on business-critical tasks without having to incur additional costs in manpower and training.

Quality of Service: Network outages can send an IT department scrambling for answers. But in the case of cloud computing, it’s up to a company’s selected vendor to offer 24/7 customer support and an immediate response to emergency situations. That’s not to suggest that outages don’t occur. In February 2008, Amazon.com’s S3 cloud-computing service experienced a brief outage that affected a number of companies. Fortunately, service was restored within three hours.

There is plenty of concern surrounding cloud computing and its attendant security risks. What a lot of companies fail to understand, however, is that many vendors rely on strict privacy policies, as well as sophisticated security measures, such as proven cryptographic methods to authenticate users. What’s more, companies can choose to encrypt data before even storing it on a third-party provider’s servers. As a result, many cloud-computing vendors offer greater data security and confidentiality than companies that choose to store their data in house. 

If you would like help evaluating Cloud computing for your company, check out the comparison chart we have put together.  This chart shows the benefits and drawbacks of On-Premise, Hosted and Cloud (or SaaS) systems.  Click here to download your copy.