What is the true cost of the cloud?

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The first thing people think about when they hear “cloud computing” is typically cost savings. Executives have targeted the cloud as an entity able to cut budgets because hardware upgrades and other IT expenses are outsourced. While this is true, most overlook the price of getting a business away from their legacy systems.

It is important to understand that the transfer to a private or public cloud is not free. IT departments have to perform complicated data integration tasks to make the changeover go smoothly. When transitioning to a hybrid model or a system that is half in the cloud and half internal server based, IT needs to make sure that the two structures are able to communicate effectively.

Forrester created a playbook to guide enterprises through the cloud process and inform them if they are making a decision that will not have a positive ROI for several months or years.

Very small businesses, for example, have little to gain from a cloud conversion from a financial point of view. Their computers are typically already fairly connected, and the use of social tools and free online document editors means employees can easily share concepts and ideas with the other people in the room.

Very large enterprises typically see the most savings from the cloud. Large servers filled with big data can be transferred with duplicate files deleted and housed on hardware advanced and cheap enough that monthly IT costs are reduced dramatically.

But companies should keep in mind that there are SaaS providers and online database software that allow businesses of any size to receive the direct benefits of the cloud without the high cost of conversion. While the cloud continues to gain steam in the tech world, the point Forrester’s playbook is meant to make is that it is important for every enterprise to weigh its options.