For those of you who aren't old enough to remember, Cal Worthington was a (semi) famous car salesman around LA with late night and weekend commercials blaring on and on about his low cost cars. "No one beats Cal" was his line. If you wanted to save money on a car, "go see Cal".
Well, now a days it seems like there's a whole industry of "Cal Worthingtons" spouting off about how they can save you money moving you to the cloud. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the cloud doesn't have its advantages and there aren't real and meaningful benefits that you can get from utilizing the cloud. We have a ton of clients utilizing the cloud in many different ways and to different degrees. However, what I am saying is it's a little bit more complicated than what a car salesman is trying to sell you. And that's what it seems like is going on these days.
"The Cloud" is so new and such a buzzword now, that a whole crop of (non-technical) salespeople have taken over this industry "selling" a product rather than truly providing a solution. I don't know how many quotes I've come across that showed that these guys were either a) completely unaware of the client's environment or b) simply attempting to bait and switch them knowing that they would be up selling after the ink on the contract was dry. Turning a perceived savings into something else (usually something significantly more). The other day I saw a quote for hosted Exchange that came out to be about $750 per month. For a split second the prospect was contemplating this only to realize that it turned out to be $9,000 per year or $27,000 after 3 years (with no end in sight). For their size company, clearly not a cost savings compared to an on-premise solution (coming in at around $13,000 after 3 years - including ongoing maintenance and support).
Recently, we attended CompTIA's 2012 Breakaway, our industry's conference for learning and sharing. One of my biggest take-aways from this event was how many different variations of "the cloud" there are and how many nuances there need to be considered to ensure a successful implementation. One of the others was how poor of a job the industry is doing communicating the differences between home/end-user cloud solutions and enterprise ones. IT'S HUGE!!! Ultimately, this then goes to having to set (or reset) the correct expectations with our clients. When people think of the cloud, they think of how they use it for themselves individually and then extrapolate that out to that same experience on the enterprise. But, it's not the same (at least not yet). And it's certainly not that simple (again, at least not yet).
Like all solutions we talk about, the thing with this Cloud thing is - it depends. Is there a cost savings? Well, it depends. Is there a reduction in ongoing maintenance and support? It depends. Is there a real and meaningful reason to migrate all or parts of our infrastructure to the cloud? It depends. If you're considering anything to do with the cloud for your business, my first word of advice would be - ensure you've partnered with someone you can trust and can provide you with expert advice based on years of experience (can you say FPA? ;-) My second word of advice would be - see my first word of advice.
With something so critical as your business' IT infrastructure - for most businesses, practically every part of their business touches or is impacted by IT - I still don't understand why someone would just go see Cal? Would you?