But remember that data has to be accessed and changed, read and written to, over and over again. The cloud's costs grow with your level of access, so you need crafty accounting work to determine if the cloud will save you money versus owning your own infrastructure. Often, owning beats renting over the long term. But each organization is unique and needs to make those calculations itself.
Perhaps your organization has a need for cloud-bursting, where you access high-performance computing at a moment's notice periodically. Being able to spin up systems quickly and pool them together is a significant advantage of the cloud in such cases; you're not saddled with all that gear (and its support staff) sitting idle the rest of the time. But the frequency and intensity of your spikes will determine whether paying for it on demand via the cloud or paying for it in-house is cheaper -- it's not a given either way.
It's about balance
Although startups are held up as all-cloud paragons, they're not close to the typical reality. Most companies will have a mix of cloud and on-premises resources. For them, the issue is achieving the right balance.
For example, the gaming company Zynga (makers of Farmville) use both on-premises systems and the cloud-based Amazon Web Services (AWS). Their balance has changed over time; due to availability issues at AWS, Zynga has shifted more heavily to on-premises resources, with AWS now accounting for 20 percent of its IT capability. But going all-on-premises is as senseless for Zynga as going all-cloud would be. Each company needs to figure out is right ratio and adjust it periodically as needs and realities change.
I've worked quite a bit with cloud-based infrastructure as a service, and I do love it -- when it fits my needs. But I don't recommend it as the magic bullet that cures all that ails you. Weigh your options, and seek a balance in what you choose.
This story, "How I decided to go to the cloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.