Clouding the issue

While there are major cost benefits to using cloud computing, remote hosting may not be right for every business.

While there are major cost benefits to using cloud computing, remote hosting may not be right for every business.

While there are major cost benefits to using cloud computing, remote hosting may not be right for every business.

Ben Silcox, managing director at Nuyuu Fitness, says his company has doubled its growth in the last five to six months and using cloud computing has enabled its technology to support the pace of expansion.

‘We are a young company and we wanted to keep all our costs to a minimum. Using the cloud therefore seemed like a logical thing to do,’ explains Silcox.

‘We like the fact that it’s scalable and since starting the company we’ve tripled our staff to 65. In the process we didn’t need to find more office space for servers or get anyone in to route more cables. We have our email and storage of documents on the cloud, as we wanted to be able to access those things on our BlackBerrys.’

Silcox says the company’s most important assets are its customer subscription records, which are easily accessible to all members of staff in the cloud. ‘If you are trying to build your own storage system, it’s a difficult game. You need a lot of technology and hardware and it needs to be backed up constantly. The costs would be prohibitive and I actually feel would be less secure than in the cloud unless we made a significant investment,’ he adds.

The marketing hype makes the cloud sound like the perfect IT solution for every business. Tom Shaw, co-founder of Digital Theatre, which produces filmed content of live performances, is among the unconverted.

‘The prospect of publishing from the cloud was dismissed almost as quickly as it was suggested,’ says Shaw. ‘It doesn’t solve any of the problems we have; it would just create issues. We couldn’t control who has access to our content and we couldn’t say that no copy had ever been taken of an asset – which might then show up on YouTube.’

Horses for courses
Stuart Lynn, head of research and development at Sage, agrees that a fully virtualised IT environment is a long way off for most companies: ‘There are businesses that could certainly benefit from the cloud, but for others the technology is not yet sophisticated enough.’

When vendors of both desktop products and cloud services are quick to sing the praises of their separate solutions, it can be hard to know what the right one is for your business, adds Lynn. ‘It’s about how business problems are best solved. Some will be on premise and some will be through the cloud; a lot of companies will want to use applications when they are not online. The cloud is a great opportunity, but in the right circumstances.’

IT tends to breed its own brand of zealots and fanatics. While there are CEOs who remain sceptical, others are embracing the revolution wholeheartedly. 

Simon Wheeldon is CEO of CloudApps, which helps its clients measure and monitor their carbon emissions. Given the company’s name, it’s no surprise to find he is one of the cloud converts: ‘Everything is cloud-based. We don’t own any physical software packages and we have no CIO. As a small organisation I’m able to use a CRM and financial applications designed to support the FTSE 100. I’m getting access to functionality I just wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.’

But for Shaw, it’s better to wait than take the leap of faith. ‘Right now we just don’t feel [the cloud] would add or take anything away from the business,’ he says.

Nick Britton

Lexus Ernser

Nick was the Managing Editor for when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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