The cloud is the new bandwagon for IT, but like previous IT trends it has its advantages and drawbacks.

Cloud vendors and backers frequently focus on its benefits.

Yet not every user group agrees that the cloud offers the way forward.

Reed Recruitment’s head of IT services, Sean Whestone, argues that maintaining his own internal IT assets is, in his view, currently cheaper than outsourcing them to a cloud provider.

As with all strategic IT shifts, there needs to be some forethought into the relative costs and benefits of the private cloud, the public cloud and the hybrid cloud.

Peter Grant, CEO of cloud service provider CloudApps, says it’s wise to look at how much a CIO is investing in his organisation’s own datacentre before moving to the cloud.

“For a large corporate enterprise to build a datacentre the cost is around $100m, and if you have 100,000-300,000 employees you are going to take 10 years to pay it back,” he argues, before suggesting that the cloud offers a lower entry point for most organisations than if it were all managed in-house.

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He also believes that the cloud allows organisations to know precisely what’s being used most, but there are hidden costs that need to be considered when a CIO is deciding about which model to adopt.

Maintaining control
Whetstone nevertheless thinks that three main issues arise when a CIO is thinking about public and private cloud strategies.

At this juncture it should be noted that he runs his own operations within a private cloud model, which allows him to maintain control over its day-to-day management.

He says that when you run your own datacentre you can put strict security around it, but this is lost when you outsource it to a cloud provider or outsourcing firm.

This situation becomes worse whenever subcontracts come into play.

“CIOs need to look at how those assurances are replicated legally and as an organisation, including legal assurances about data protection,” he says.

Whetstone recognises that the cloud allows organisations to shrink and grow their ICT infrastructure, but he also feels that you can lose control over its performance.