When it comes to cloud based computing, it seems that every business is on the bandwagon from industry to marketing companies. However, when evaluating the pros and cons of cloud based IoT platforms and even general cloud computing, it is good to know that there are two sides to the argument.
Pro: Get Rid of Costly Systems
Servers and other Internet of Things (IoT) and computing hardware can be costly to have in house, but with cloud computing, you don’t have to have them. Instead you can have access to your data via internet connection. Hardware, and even employees, have little to do with it.
Con: Cost Comparison
While cloud software may seem like a bargain compared to locally installed software, it is important to explore the features of each. In some cases, the features you need will not be included with the cloud software, and will mean you pay a premium cost or even subscription for a door stuck half open. This will be on top of what you already paid. Before jumping the gun, be sure you are comparing Apples to Apples.
Pro: Access from Nearly Anywhere
Of course, one of the pros of cloud computing is that you can access data, control devices, get alerts, create reports, and many other things from anywhere. Even in industry, mobile human machine interfaces (HMI) and mobile SCADA make it possible to do work that once required a physical presence from nearly anywhere in the world.
Most of the time, you can access your cloud software and applications on nearly any device that has a web connection and a browser, including tablets and phones, both IOS and Android.
Con: You Need an Internet Connection
The con of this approach of course is that if your internet connection goes down or you are somewhere where you don’t have a connection at all, you will not have access to this data. In the age of cell phones and towers nearly everywhere, this is unlikely. However, in some cases internet speed can be compromised, and your ability to complete tasks efficiently can become a problem.
Since much of big data and cloud computing enterprise is time sensitive, you may want to consider what programs you might need local versions of to allow work to continue even in the absence of connectivity.
Pro: Software Expenses
Generally speaking, cloud computing software is less costly than local software, especially providing enough copies for every team member who might need access. Also, the fact that cloud software can be easily updated is a time saver, increasing the savings to your business.
Con: Compatibility Issues
The con? Some software is only compatible with certain machines, or are connected to a specific personal computer. You may have issues of incompatibility, but they should be rare.
Pro: Lower Cost of Adding Employees
Adding employees to the software programs and applications is a matter of issuing login credentials, as the software and copies of it already exist on the cloud. This decreases the cost of onboarding employees, especially if you have a solid BYOD policy.
Con: Security Issues
Of course, cloud computing helps keep your data secure, but always the weak link is the human factor, and passwords can be compromised. Enlist the help of an experienced IT security expert, use multi-factor authentication, and take other steps to keep your sensitive data safe.
Pro: Data Centralization and Recovery
All of your data is stored in a central and secure location. This is a good thing, as it can be accessed remotely as mentioned above, but also if you have a data loss locally, it can be recovered quickly. Most cloud backups are automated, so the likelihood is that you will lose little to no data in the event of a local failure.
This is much better than the cost of a hard drive failure, not to mention the time involved and the fact that you may never recover the data contained on it. (unless it too, was backed up)
Con: Lack of Network Insight
Yes, you can see data like CPU, RAM, and disk usage with cloud computing. But if you have a bug in your code or a hardware issue, unless you know the problem, it is impossible to fix. Diagnostics can often be difficult at best. While such failures are rare, it is important to consider reliability with your cloud computing and your own network.
Pro: Sharing Capability
Just like with your best friend, you can share everything with the cloud. Your documents can be emailed, and with some services, you can even collaborate with a colleague on the same document at the same time. This real-time collaboration is invaluable, and you can do it whether you are sitting side by side or across the world.
Con: Minimal Flexibility
Since the applications and software run on a remote server, you will have little control over the functionality of both the hardware and the software. For most applications, this is not a huge issue, but in some cases the need for this control outweighs the benefit of cloud computing.
The Bottom Line
For most enterprises, cloud computing is a viable answer to many issues. It allows for less expensive solutions in a number of ways. But for some applications, local software is a better answer. Before choosing for your particular project, you need to weigh the pros and cons. There’s not a single solution for everyone, and careful analysis will enable you to make good business choices.