Minasi challenges cloud computing's low-cost promise

Windows guru Mark Minasi says vendors that tout lower costs as a reason to move to cloud computing may not be giving you the whole story. Do the math.

LAS VEGAS – Vendors of all kinds are promoting cloud computing  and one of their selling points is that the cloud can potentially save enterprises a lot of money. But it’s entirely possible that moving to cloud computing, or a services model, may ultimately cost more than those vendors lead you to believe.

At DevConnections here last week, author and Windows expert Mark Minasi reminded attendees that their on-premise technologies have predictable and fixed costs. And although cloud vendors promise initial lower costs, the cloud’s actual cost structure can be difficult to predict.

Minasi said moving an application to the cloud will require companies to rewrite all of their homegrown applications, costing not only capital but invaluable man hours. A move to the cloud requires organizations to maintain an IT infrastructure, as well as oodles of Internet bandwidth, so that personnel can access in-house apps that are now in the cloud, he said. In other words, a corporation will pay for its cloud vendor’s Internet in addition to its own.

In most cases, customers don’t get what they pay for with vendor service-level agreements (SLAs). He said he couldn’t imagine a cloud vendor offering a small business an affordable SLA or a reasonable payment after an outage. Small businesses are probably better off sticking with local consultants that they already know and trust, said Minasi.

Cloud computing “what ifs”

The cloud model creates a few new variables that shouldn’t be ignored. What if your competitor started clicking on your site, knowing that your enterprise is on the cloud, in an effort to drive up your costs? What if customer data were compromised? Who pays the legal bills and invests money to restore a company’s reputation?

Skepticism and paranoia aside, Minasi expects that cloud migration is inevitable for some companies. He advises companies planning a  move to get a good sense of their current Web traffic and associated costs. Will the cloud service provider reduce that cost? Analyze your current uptime and its costs, and compare that with the uptime the provider promises.

Ultimately, IT shops need to keep their eyes open and compare all on-premise expenses with those of the service provider.

This was last published in November 2010

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