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Cloud computing: Could it cost more?

IntroCloud computing is all about cutting costs, but some organisations that are going down that road are reporting increased cost instead. How is this possible? According to Marc Noble, director of government affairs for (ISC)2, he knows of at least one cloud implementation where the chief information security officers (CISO) involved reported he had not seen the advertised cost benefits. This should not really come as a surprise, he told Computer Weekly. "No move of systems and data has ever been painless or without cost," he said. Some providers of cloud services claim up to 85% cost savings, but Noble said he has yet to see any organisation achieving savings anywhere near that level. Before rushing to cloud computing, organisations should check if there are any migration costs and evaluate whether employees will need additional training once the change is made. There may also be additional costs involved in deploying new monitoring systems. "It may not be possible to hand over everything without staying 'wired in' which may require new skills and systems," said Noble. However, John Howie, chief operating officer (COO) of the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) said he can think of only one instance in which cloud computing could cost more than traditional IT. Cloud computing can be more costly when organisations simply use infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) to create a virtualised version of their existing IT environment. "This approach requires replicating everything for use in a virtual environment and then moving it over to the cloud, which all adds to the cost," said Howie. Rather than recreating what exists in the traditional IT work, organisations should look at their requirements as they are likely to find that a service to meet those requirements already exists Using existing, standard software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings will deliver immediate cost savings to most organisations, according to Howie. For most applications, such as email, the client does not change and the process is completely invisible to the user, he said. For some collaboration applications, such as Microsoft's SharePoint, some work may be required that will incur some cost, but Howie is confident these will be offset in the longer term. "Anyone comparing IaaS with PaaS, where you write your own application and then run it on a cloud platform, will be pleasantly surprised by the savings that can achieved," he said. Using PaaS is much more efficient and scalable, which is largely where the cost savings come from. "Unified communications is also much more efficient and less costly in the cloud," he added.
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