Does cloud computing make sense for your business?

Leapfrog likes cloud computing. “Software as a service” platforms such as customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) can be the perfect

solution to help you manage your business. Why buy complex, expensive software and the hardware to run it when you can subscribe at a fraction of the cost?
However, when it comes to production storage, security and “platform as a service,” we usually recommend you stick with “brick and mortar” solutions. Here’s why.

“Software as a service” allows you to take one or more pieces of your business that aren’t core aspects and hand them over to a pro, which is very similar to what you do when you outsource your IT. It saves you time and money while giving you access to high-quality products and services. Plus you can customize the software and you never have to worry about upgrades or hardware maintenance. As long as you’re not paying for hourly access or megabyte transfers, you’ll probably get a good return on your investment. is an example of “software as a service” cloud computing that we like. There are also some pretty good Application Service Providers (ASPs) out there.

But if you choose cloud computing for dedicated hosting services or “platform as a service” (infrastructure) watch out: the clock may be running. You often pay for what you use while you’re using it, so if your business needs to run the platform all the time, any savings you enjoy from renting instead of buying can quickly disappear.

Plus, there can be hidden costs.

For example, if your infrastructure is in the cloud, it’s harder to get help when you need it. And the time spent dealing with problems can really add up. Let’s say you have a small business that can’t afford to build a brick and mortar system so you’re using Google Apps — a great solution for you. But there’s no 800 number for when you run into trouble. So what do you do? You call your IT support team and let them communicate with your service provider..while you wait. And while support team charges add up.

There are also more security concerns in cloud computing than there are with brick and mortar systems, as you might expect, and they can be expensive to work around. And while the cloud is great for long-term encrypted backup and archiving, hardware wins hands down when it comes to production storage — you need to have complete control over your business data so you know who is accessing it and when. Same goes for core aspects of your business that need always be available, no matter what — like email, production file storage and web services.

Like most things in business, the right mix of cloud computing and brick and mortar solutions depends on your organization. The bottom line when we offer advice? Get the most out of your computer network for the least amount of time and money.