Who Shouldn’t Be Using Cloud Computing?
Now let’s look at the flip side of the coin. If cloud computing isn’t for everyone, who isn’t it for?
Because cloud computing is based on the Internet cloud and depends on Internet access, if you don’t have Internet access, you’re out of luck. Without Internet access, you can’t run web-based applications or open documents stored on the web. Users without readily available Internet access simply shouldn’t be considering a switch to cloud-based computing—until they get Internet access, that is.
The same goes if you have slow Internet access, like that found with dial-up Internet connections. A slow connection isn’t much better than none at all when accessing big apps and docs on the web. It takes a long time to download these apps and docs, and that waiting time becomes intolerable on anything less than a broadband connection.
Along the same lines, anyone who consistently works offline in a non-Internet-enabled environment probably isn’t the ideal candidate for cloud computing. That means anyone who works out of their vehicle, anyone who works in an office without Internet access, anyone who works at home without Internet access, and anyone who travels from office to office without guarantee of an Internet connection. No Internet, no cloud computing—it’s that simple.
The Security Conscious
Today, we think that cloud computing is safe—but we can’t guarantee that. It’s certainly possible that cloud systems can be hacked and cloud-based documents accessed by unauthorized users; it’s also possible that your data could be snagged during transmission between your computer and the cloud. It may be unlikely, but it can happen.
If your documents are confidential, you probably don’t want to trust them with cloud computing just yet. Just as you wouldn’t transmit confidential documents over a public Wi-Fi network, you shouldn’t upload and store your documents on a cloud computing network with questionable security. When security matters, don’t take chances.
Anyone Married to Existing Applications
Today, here’s probably the most important reason not to sign up for a web-based application: You use Microsoft Office. That’s right, many web-based applications are not completely compatible with Microsoft’s file formats. This means it might be difficult if not impossible to open your Word or Excel docs with your web-based app—and vice versa.
If you or your organization is a dyed-in-the-wool Microsoft shop, the move to a web-based application will be a tough one. Make sure that your docs can convert, or that the web-based app can read and write in Microsoft’s native formats. If not, it might be more trouble to migrate than it’s worth.
There’s a similar issue, of course, if you’re sharing documents with others who use Microsoft software. If you use an online app, can you save your documents in a format that your Microsoft-equipped friends and colleagues can read? It’s a real issue, and one that keeps Microsoft on top of the software pile.
Bottom line: Try before you switch. If your web-based docs aren’t fully compatible with Microsoft programs, it might be best to remain a Microsoft shop.