Big cloud companies are locked in a “race to zero” as they attempt to out price competitors and make the costs of renting storage and compute power virtually nil for all interested consumers — small business and enterprise alike. Public, private and hybrid clouds, meanwhile, are vying for top spot as companies look to balance security, speed and access.
Despite growing popularity of the cloud, and despite the big investments and market research, many companies are still in the dark when it comes to the basics of cloud computing. It's no surprise; with so much hype and IT talk about cloud-based services, it's easy for critical details to get lost in translation — front-line employees are often unsure how cloud services differ from typical IT, and may not make the most of these resources as a result. They’re asking how it works, what it means, and how it can help them do their jobs. Here are four key talking points to help explain what the C-suite needs users to know about cloud computing.
It's the Same, But Different
According to MSPMentor, recent survey data suggests that companies are still divided on the value of the cloud. Why? Because there's often a disconnect between adoption and explanation. The result is confusion for employees. To them, IT is IT is IT, whether provided on site or off. For business and IT executives, therefore, it's essential to tackle the basics. This means clearly defining the core concept: cloud is the same, but different.
Familiar services and processes still exist. Network access is unchanged and employees should find that compute performance has significantly increased. The big difference is server location. Instead of being hosted on site, resources are managed by off-site providers that are responsible for all maintenance and upgrades.
It Changes the Cost Model
Cost isn't the same in the cloud. When IT professionals are tasked with delivering in-house compute services, they need to regularly spend on hardware upgrades and maintenance. This requires not only big spending upfront, but also ongoing costs to handle day-to-day operations. The cloud, meanwhile, eliminates the need for upfront purchasing by removing the need for physical hardware. Instead, companies pay for compute and storage power directly, along with investing in per-seat or per-device licenses for applications. For employees, this typically means greater access to services they need, when they're needed.
It's Not a Cure-All
As noted by CIO, the cloud is an “economical way to support more users and new IT services.” What's more, it often comes with greater efficiency and reduced downtime. However, management professionals need to make it clear that the cloud isn't a cure-all: if networks go down or cloud providers experience major outages, the results can range from poor performance to complete lack of access. What's more, cloud services don't “solve” anything on their own — employees must be trained to make best use of the technology available. For executives, the key here is differentiating between the reach of local IT and cloud providers to help users bridge the knowledge gap.
It's In Your Pocket
The last thing bosses need to communicate about the cloud? It's already in the pockets of company-wide employees. Cloud-based email services and other applications have trained users to expect cloud performance and accessibility, even if they don't give it the “cloud” label. Making the link between mobile devices and cloud-enabled workstations is one of the most effective ways to change employee perspective and get them on board with cloud computing.
Want to help employees understand and make best use of the cloud? Shore up the familiar, don't obfuscate costs, talk about limitations, and make the mobile connection.