Manager’s List of Potential Cloud Computing Benefits

This is a list of potential cloud computing benefits and where they might touch on your organisation(As I’ve mentioned previously, I only work with the Microsoft cloud, but the principles should apply generally).

Of course, you should have another list – the risks, and consider what that list tells you about the trade-offs you would have to make. That’s for another blog post.

Application Capacity
Unless the load on your application is unusually steady, you alternatives are:
a) Economise on equipment and suffer the consequences when demand is high
or
b) Specify for peak load and waste capacity at normal loadings
In the cloud you can add computing resources almost in real time So you can cope with extra demand, whether expected or not (you’ll have worked on the metrics, and scripted/tested adding and removing of resources prior to application release of course).

Baselined Specification, Reduced Maintainance
Whether you deploy conventional applications to virtual machines (IaaS), or adapt your applications to run against cloud services (Paas), some responsibility will transfer to the cloud provider. This can be a good thing: the service will be fully patched and its specification will be designed and maintained by the provider. Some products such as Sharepoint are difficult costly to manage on company premises, which means a saving if this can be delegated to Microsoft.

“Off-the-Shelf” Packages
The security system at your offices is important; your insurance may depend on it. You probably didn’t take that as a reason to design the whole thing yourself. A system from a specialist would not only be cheaper; it will probably be more effective.

The same can be said of cloud services available off the shelf. Microsoft spend a lot more time thinking about data and application security than your developers can, so their security and identity implementation is likely to be better than yours. Of course, there are parts of your application where your developers can really add value, and if you can gain time by outsourcing the other modules, they can focus on that.

Physical Security
The cloud supplier is well aware of the need to make their data centre physically secure and the measures they take may be more effective than anything your company could provide.

Reduced Capex
If you currently make outright purchases of computer equipment, the cloud will of course reduce your capital expenditure, and instead of a large upfront payment depreciated over a period, you’ll have a regular revenue expense. Your tax position and financial ratios may be improved, and of course the depreciation has genuinely gone, since you no longer hold an asset that steadily becomes out-dated.

Subsidies
Cloud providers are offering free services to organisations like startups and educational institutions.

Better Utilization of Existing Hardware
Your on-premises Sql Server instance requires a lot of resources. By using Stretch Db you can push the cold data into the cloud and queries against the database will span both locations.

Insurance
Current trends may make this a benefit at some future time. Apparently, insurers of IT risk are not keeping up the complexity of IT systems. Their reaction is to increase premiums. Underwriters may begin to
set premiums more competitively in areas where cloud services are provided by a supplier they know and trust.

Project Planning
You may be planning to upgrade infrastructure or third-party software which will never go to the cloud. If your infrastructure is available in the cloud you can experiment at low cost without committing to license fees, and in complete isolation from your production, staging and development environments.

The virtual machine builds in the cloud are equipped with patches by Microsoft, so you don’t have the burden of researching and applying them yourself. You’ll want to automate the builds and also the teardown of resources that you don’t need.

“Off-the-Shelf” Data
Azure provides off-the-shelf datasets. The list was quite limited, less than 300 when I last checked, and naturally enough, the free ones, such as World Bank data, will often be available directly from the provider. (In the World Bank case, there’s a special adaptation for the F# language which is worth looking at). The advantage of accessing data from Azure would be reduced latency. If it’s a large dataset and resides in the same region as your cloud application, the access times will be much quicker.

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