In the course of our work we often have cause to caution clients (and potential clients) about the rush to “the cloud”.

There is an assumption by some that this is a new world of hosted services where the hardware and software are someone else’s problem and you can buy in to meet your business needs in a cost-effective way. From many perspectives the theory is sound* but, as with many things, there’s a weak point.

Cloud computing graphicAnd, just like in so many other areas, that weak point is the soft, squishy interface built into the system; humans.

What you can often find with a hosted product is that you can’t get help or information in a time frame that keeps your business running smoothly. Customer service is too often where new firms with a brilliant concept let people down. Often the engineering side of the ingenious new service comes long before serious service specialists are allowed to work their magic on the support side of things.

Even then, once you’ve put all your storage, CRM or email eggs in that particular basket you can’t know whether there will be enough support people (with enough experience of the product) to meet the needs of all of the users. It’s a minefield.

We’re not the only ones who think this way, apparently. Some interesting figures have come out of a survey of Chief Information Officers which indicated that more than 80 per cent of them had had to retain the same level of on-site technical support at their premises, despite moving key services to the cloud. A third of them said they’d been left without the support they used to enjoy on their own site because it was supposed to be covered by the cloud provider but they had proved a let down.

Clouds are in the mix

The main takeaway was that the support from cloud providers was considered in many cases to just not be good enough. That can be fixed, of course, as long as the industry gets its act together. The question is whether there is enough value in these services to pay for it.

At Bespoke Computing we’re not cloud naysayers. Few businesses can avoid harnessing the capabilities of connected computing in one way or another. It can move vulnerable data off-site (as long as that’s done securely), it can support dispersed teams or give access to computing power that wouldn’t be cost effective to invest in yourself – and so much more. It’s part of a the mix of possible solutions that could be right for your business.

It’s just that it’s not a fix-all for everything or a short cut to stripping IT budgets. Now more than at any time in our history, technical expertise underpins any business and you simply cannot beat having skilled hands on-site. They don’t have to be on your site all of the time, but a real person on the end of a phone and a short road journey away is going to keep your business moving better than a Silicon Valley intern whose working day is eight hours out of step with yours.

* Though when you strip away the sexy sounding “cloud” bit, you’re left with “hosted services delivered over the internet”. Those have been around for a looooong time and suddenly don’t sound like a marketing man’s dream when you describe them like that…