Companies leverage Information Technologies to solve any number of business problems, but the necessary first step is always the same: You must first develop an accurate inventory of which applications reside in the cloud and which ones reside in your data center. The best solution to meet your needs will either be a cloud-based solution or a premise-based solution, but the right answer often depends heavily on where your applications live in the first place.

This choice is an important decision in which reasonable people can often differ. Some decision-makers lean towards the control inherent in the data center model, especially for applications that are critical to their business. Others are drawn to the lower cost and overall efficiency of the cloud and have furthermore come to the determination that the cloud is indeed ready for prime time – even when it comes to their most mission-critical applications.

As part of AVANT’s pre-sales assessment process, customers evaluating network solutions were asked to take a look at their IT infrastructure and tell us what goes where – either to the cloud or to a server in their data centers. These results don’t necessarily tell you where your own company’s data is located, but the charts provided in this blog do provide some interesting comparisons on how other companies choose to use the cloud vs. the data center. Take a look:

Which apps are hosted in the cloud?
E-mail    70.3%
CRM    34.7%
PBX/Voice    33.8%
Video/Telepresence    27.9%
Productivity    22.4%
File    21%
ERP    17.4%
LOB/Custom    9.1%

Which apps are hosted in the data center?
File    64.8%
PBX/Voice    62.1%
Email    43.1%
Productivity    39.5%
ERP    38.7%
CRM    30%
LOB/Custom    24.1%
Video/Telepresence    22.9%

The first thing you’ll notice is that the combined percentages of multiple categories do not add up to 100 percent. In cases where the numbers are in excess of 100 percent, the companies are using a hybrid approach in which some elements of the application are in the cloud while others are in the data center, or they have different groups using different solutions. This is common in situations where the company may be in the process of an incremental move to the cloud. In cases where the total is less than 100 percent, this is an indication that not everyone chose to answer the question.

You’ll also note that applications that are more specialized to the specifics of the business are more likely to be housed in the data center. Company files are an excellent case-in-point (64.8% in the data center). On the other hand, email, while certainly central to business communications, is far more likely to be located in the cloud (70.3%). 

While these two tables will give you a sense of how most companies are handling this decision, you’ll still need to take the time to explore your own corporate IT environment. You may find applications that you’d prefer to move to the cloud or discover applications that you’d prefer to move back from the cloud. In either case, your future business case for technology decisions will be inextricably linked to where your applications are located. Some options may be better suited to the cloud while others will more effectively reside in the data center. Security is a perfect example. The way you approach security for cloud-based applications is far different from the way you approach security in the data center because the exposures and attack surfaces are very different. 
In summary, your inventory of applications will need to be kept current and readily available when new concepts for IT are introduced. Due diligence with such record keeping can make all the difference in getting the most out of your IT investments.