If we define the cloud in its simplest terms as access to files/data/programs via the Internet what are the criteria most organizations and individuals use to determine if the cloud is right for you or your business.
1) Capital Expenditures - The cloud pricing model is a subscription based pay as your go model which defers the large upfront initial payments, associated with traditional on premise models, over time.
2) Disaster recovery - Most cloud providers use Tier 1 or Tier 2 data centers to provide their software as service. The disaster recovery protection they typically provide is not comparable to what a typical organization could manage with its own hardware, network infrastructure. Even if they could the costs would likely be prohibitive.
3) Scalability - Again the data centers above are built with so much capacity there are rarely issues with the growth of your system. As your business or organization grows you are able to add users, functionality, or storage with ease. In the on premise environment we often run into capacity issues due to size of or some other restriction of our hardware or network. Again the comparable cost of the type of capacity a cloud service provider can deliver in the on premise world is likely more than the average business can manage.
4) Version upgrades - It is has become a huge concern of the on premise software industry. It is often quite costly to upgrade from one version to another. In the cloud upgrades are often occurring with complete transparency to the customer both in terms of technology and cost.
5) Hardware life cycle - In the on premise world your hardware has a life expectancy. In the cloud your cloud provider is responsible for your hardware. occasionally hardware will need to be upgraded and this may take your systems down but it does not change your predictable subscription pricing. You are provided with plenty of notice and the systems are down for a predictable amount of time with little impact to your business. The experience is much different than the hardware failure and hardware upgrade horror stories we often hear about in the on premise world.
6) Accessibility mobility - As cloud systems are available over the Internet there is rarely a place you can not access your data and there is rarely a device with which you can not access your data. On premise models often rely on remote communications software which have restrictions in terms of where or with what device you can access them. In the cloud as as long as you have a browser and Internet access you can typically connect.
The above would be criteria that typically favor a cloud scenario in my next article I will speak to some of the criteria that may favor a on premise scenario. Please stay tuned and feel free to comment on other criteria that you feel favor a cloud type implementation.