For those of you who aren't old enough to remember, Cal Worthington was a (semi) famous car salesman around LA with late night and weekend commercials blaring on and on about his low-cost cars. "No one beats Cal" was his line. If you were looking to buy a car and wanted to save money, the commercials would say "go see Cal".
Well, nowadays we're seeing too many companies who are touting the cost savings as the driver for moving your IT to the cloud and, unfortunately, are delivering on their promises like Cal. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the cloud doesn't have its advantages and there aren't real and meaningful benefits that you can get from utilizing the cloud. We have a ton of clients using the cloud in all sorts of ways and to varying degrees. However, what I am saying is that too often it's more complicated than simply what many used car salesman are trying to sell.
"The Cloud" is so new and such a buzzword these days, that a whole crop of (non-technical) salespeople have taken over this industry "selling" a product rather than truly providing a solution. I don't know how many quotes I've come across that showed that these "solution providers" were either a) completely unaware of the client's environment or b) simply attempting to bait and switch them knowing that they would be up selling after the ink on the contract was dry.
Turning a perceived savings into something else (usually something significantly more). The other day I saw a quote for hosted Exchange that came out to be about $750 per month. For a split second, the prospect was contemplating this only to realize that it turned out to be $9,000 per year or $27,000 after three years (with no end in sight). For their size company, clearly not a cost savings compared to Office 365 or even an on-premise solution (coming in at around $13,000 after three years - including ongoing maintenance and support).
Recently, we attended ITNation, and industry conference for learning and sharing. One of our biggest takeaways from this event was how many different variations of "the cloud" there are and how many nuances there need to be considered to ensure a successful implementation. One of the others was how poor of a job the industry is doing communicating the differences between home/end-user cloud solutions and enterprise ones. AND IT'S HUGE!!!
Ultimately, this goes to having to set (or reset) the correct expectations with our clients. When people think of the cloud, they think of how they use it for themselves individually and then extrapolate that out to that same experience on the enterprise. But, it's not the same (at least not yet). And it's certainly not that simple (again, at least not yet).
Like all solutions we talk about, the thing with this Cloud thing is - it depends. Is there a cost savings? Well, it depends. Is there a reduction in ongoing maintenance and support? It depends. Is there a real and meaningful reason to migrate all or parts of our infrastructure to the cloud? It depends. Can we get rid of all of our on-premise computers? Well, actually - no. In fact, while you may incur some cost savings moving some of your infrastructure to the cloud, you will have to invest in other areas that you hadn't before - like a backup internet circuit, a firewall with fail-over capabilities, a firewall with increased capabilities (to handle the increased traffic, internet security protocols (now that more of your information is flowing between your office and the outside world.
If you're considering anything to do with the cloud for your business, my first word of advice would be - ensure you've partnered with someone you can trust and can provide you with expert advice based on years of experience (can you say FPA? ;-) My second word of advice would be - see my first word of advice.
With something as critical as your business' IT - for most businesses, practically every part of their business touches or is impacted by IT - I still don't understand why someone would even consider going see Cal?
What do you think? Have you run across any Cals? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or feel free to send me an email to discuss this in more detail.