As originally published in the American City Business Journals.
Feeling the pressure to move your company to the cloud?
While most companies have at least part of their operations in the cloud — email, backup, applications, or files — many have yet to transition into a full virtual desktop environment, one where the entire computing experience is powered by someone else’s servers in someone else’s datacenter.
But that’s the way businesses are headed; market research predicts that the global virtual desktop infrastructure market will grow at a pace of 11 percent annually through the year 2020.
Is your company ready? Here are some red flags that indicate you should pump the brakes a bit before making the leap.
When not to move to the cloud
- You haven’t gotten proper value out of your last IT investment. If you just replaced your servers two years ago, and if your entire team is working off of new workstations, make sure you get your money’s worth on that equipment. You certainly don’t want to wait until your server crashes to migrate your infrastructure, but getting a reasonable return on your previous investment does make good business sense if there are no other compelling motivators.
- You have internal IT staff who are adamantly opposed. This one is loaded. Your staff might hesitate to move to the cloud because they think their jobs will be in jeopardy if you do. Or, they might have completely sound and objective reasons to keep your environment contained at your offices. Either way, your company leadership will have to take time to investigate the true source of the opposition, and to determine if you’re truly making the best decision for your technology strategy going forward.
- You have a workforce that isn’t comfortable with not owning their own hardware. I’ve talked before about how keeping your servers within arm’s reach doesn’t necessarily keep them safer, but feelings of reluctance (and outright distrust) are pervasive when it comes to handing over your company data. In this case, you’ll need to slow down to educate your team on the controls and security measures that many cloud providers have in place. Afterwards, you’ll either find that their fears are allayed, or that you need to hold pattern.
Other common objections
Beyond these scenarios, I’ve also encountered quite a few businesses who dismiss the idea of the cloud because (1) they don’t feel that they need the level of mobility that the cloud offers, or (2) they feel that a cloud model is just too expensive.
To the first point, consider whether or not rejecting employee mobility will put your company at risk when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. By 2020, millennials will make up half of the American workforce. Telling this group that they can’t work from home, or that they can’t access email from their phone… Well, I don’t expect that to go over very well.
To the second point, yes, your company might see an increase in its monthly IT investment if you’re switching from an on-premises to a virtual desktop environment. For many, though, the fact that you won’t ever have to invest in a server or workstation upgrade again evens the playing field in the long run. Ask your IT team to run a three- or five-year cost and benefit analysis to see how the two approaches compare big-picture.
In other words, unless you fall into one of the three categories above, I would encourage you to have a deeper discussion with your IT team to see if a transition could in fact have a positive, measurable impact on your business.
Because for those companies that have already made the move, the gains in security, productivity, and morale can really be quite stunning.