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Do you love the cloud, but for the wrong reason?

Just a few days ago, In advance of a Gartner conference that’s slated for Sydney, Australia in May, Gartner research director Michael Warrilow, who is based in Australia, made a statement about the business of the cloud that is certain to trigger many discussions. Targeting his statements for that geography, Warrilow said that businesses are “too enthusiastic about cloud.” Though his geographical purview is limited, it’s reasonable to extrapolate his opinion to the wider global landscape.

“Some [businesses] are making dangerous assumptions that [the cloud] will always save them money, which it’s not necessarily going to do. What they will get is more agility and a different mix of capex and opex, which the business likes,” he said.

Mr. Warrilow is right, of course. Where I differ somewhat is that I don’t see some as “too enthusiastic,” but, rather, as enthusiastic for the wrong reason.

If a company is looking to cut costs, there are much easier ways to do it than launching the entirety of IT into the cloud. I’d start by dealing with output — how many printers are installed, which can be eliminated and replaced with a single departmental printer, duplex printing to halve paper consumption, outsourcing oversight and maintenance to a managed print services provider, just-in-time automatic toner cartridge replenishment to avoid hoarding, and so on. Follow that with imaging technology to eliminate most printing in the first place, and you’re saving serious money. It’s low-hanging fruit and it’s comparatively easy to do.

Cloud computing is a means to an end, not a business strategy unto itself.

I do not subscribe to the idea that cutting costs should be the primary reason for moving to the cloud. Cloud computing is a means to an end, not a business strategy unto itself. You embrace the cloud because you can deliver more services and better information to customers and employees more quickly. That leads to (in theory, anyway) more sales, greater revenue, and enhanced profitability.

If you’re reading this, you probably earn your living thanks to cloud computing. Without a doubt, cloud technology — and the cloud industry — have rocked IT to its very core and changed the way nearly every company on the planet conducts business. The allure of the cloud can’t be argued: More services, better security, increasingly powerful development tools, instant spin-up of resources, and plummeting prices combine to make the cloud, well, simply irresistible.

We’ve matured from years ago when applications that were the easiest to move into the cloud got the call, regardless of their impact upon or importance to the business. Today, the focus is rightfully on the applications that make the most business sense.

Do you agree? Is your organization’s reason for embracing the cloud to save money, or to improve the way in which it operates? Share your opinions; we’d like to hear from you.