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Five ways to weigh cloud computing

By Source Seeker on Thu, 08/14/08 - 8:51am.

Thinking about dumping your internal data center and going to Google's AppEngine or Amazon's EC2? AT&T's Joe Weinman has a great post on Gigaom where he helps enterprises evaluate whether cloud computing is the right platform for them. For him, it all comes down to five simple questions:

1. Is demand constant? If so, then an internal data center is more cost-effective. But if demand is spiky, as it is for retail operations that book most of their sales in the fourth quarter, cloud computing's elastic pay-per-use schemes are a better fit.

2. Is growth predictable? Once again, if the answer is yes, stick to your internal data center. But if it isn't, then pay-as-you-grow may be better suited.

3. Can demand be shaped? If demand is spiky, it can sometimes be leveled via incentives, congestion pricing, promotions, etc. If that's the case, stick to your internal workings. But if the demand spikes remain, cloud computing is for you.

4. Where are the users? If everyone works in the same building or general geographical area, serving them from a single consolidated data center works just fine. But if your workforce is global, it's probably best to complement that data center with computing in the cloud.

5. Is the application interactive? Some applications don't require a lot of back and forth with the server, but most enterprises are finding that their applications are increasingly interactive. Couple that with a global workforce and cloud-computing's wide footprint makes more sense, as users remain close to their computing power.

A couple of other factors are the move to cut costs and go green. With the economy the way it is, and energy prices on the upswing, no enterprise can remove them from the equation. And of course, cloud-computing's reliability has yet to be fully tested. But assuming such factors are worked out, these five questions are a good foundation for enterprises looking to make the right cloud-computing decision.