Each and every day, my customers ask me about this "Cloud Thing." What is it? Who invented it (Of course, Al Gore – he invented the Internet, right?)? And will it save me money?
 
Let’s start with the basics. The Cloud is a buzzword created by marketing people. Hopefully, they were paid royally because they sure did get the word out. Had you ever used AOL back in the ‘90s? Guess what - your email was in the cloud. The cloud existed even back then. It’s nothing new. It’s become easier and more cost-effective to use the “cloud” due to the increase in Internet bandwidth available. The cloud is your data, applications or computing power stored somewhere else and then delivered to you via the Internet. The cloud can essentially take us back to the old days of computers where there was a mainframe (remember that word?) and dumb terminals. 
 
Will it save you money?
 
It all depends. One of the key things people do not consider with the cloud is that you still have to do something and pay someone to manage your network. Your IT needs do not go away. You will need someone to add users, run system updates, ensure your network is secure and troubleshoot issues when there are glitches.  Another consideration is when you move your network to the cloud, you have to pay for it every month. The bill never goes away.  If you own your equipment and have it in your building and potentially have a bad year, you can continue to use your existing equipment with no monthly payment. But if your equipment is in the cloud, the bills keep coming. If you stop paying the bill, you lose access to your systems. When considering moving to the cloud, it is also important to consult your CPA and financial team. The implications of using the cloud are far more than just technical.
 
To Cloud or Not to Cloud?
 
I am sure Shakespeare pondered many things but not this question.  There is no right or wrong answer. Some cars use gasoline and some use diesel. It’s a matter of preference, budget, needs and how your office/company runs. It’s a great technology and if used properly, can be very powerful. The opposite holds true as well – if you are not educated on the solution, it could be a waste of money and resources. 
 
My final thoughts
 
Migrating your network to the cloud is a big decision. When making the choice, be sure to check references, find out the financial stability of the data center (What happens if they go bankrupt? Where does that leave you and your data? Be informed. Work with a consultant you trust and examine all options. Figure out your short and long-term goals and make sure your technology is in place to support them. 
 
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Mongeluzo is the founder and president of PCS as well as the founder of application developer pilotLight studios. He is president of the Entrepreneurs Forum of Greater Philadelphia (EFGP) and is FOX TV’s IT expert in the country’s fourth-largest television market. PCS has gained recognition as one of the fastest-growing companies regionally and nationally with offices in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.