Cloud Computing: How to Determine Its Return on Investment

Cloud computing has emerged as an indispensable tool for businesses across numerous sectors in today’s world. This has been further accentuated due to the ongoing pandemic, which has made improved responsiveness and flexibility through cloud computing a top priority.

Several businesses are just beginning to realise the immense potential of cloud computing that can completely transform their operational workflows while enhancing security, collaboration, mobility and cost effectiveness. Although the benefits are evident, a few corporate executives still harbour doubts about adopting cloud computing due to concerns about return on investment (ROI).

The reason for this is that measuring the return on investment (ROI) for cloud computing isn’t always a simple task. Determining the cost-benefit analysis of transitioning to the cloud necessitates considering several factors. As such, I will delineate some of the crucial factors to keep in mind while evaluating the ROI for cloud computing.

Understanding the Significance of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Evaluating the costs linked to your present server infrastructure is vital in determining the possible return on investment from cloud computing. It is essential to consider the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which includes both direct and indirect expenses associated with maintaining your infrastructure.

Comprehending the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) can aid in pinpointing the expenses that can be saved by migrating to the cloud. Obtaining a lucid picture of the current costs related to your on-premises server infrastructure can help you gauge the potential expenses of shifting to the cloud and how you can achieve long-term cost savings.

To establish your overall cost of ownership, it is essential to factor in some aspects that include:

  • Servers.

    It is noteworthy that there will be instances when server maintenance will be required, which will lead to expenses. Additionally, servers generally offer a lifespan of around three to five years, following which you may need to replace them, leading to an increase in your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
  • Assistance with repairs and maintenance.

    The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) must be evaluated while considering the costs associated with maintaining the server infrastructure, encompassing server racks, and environmental controls. The acquisition, upkeep and renewal of the hardware, components, and equipment that constitute the ecosystem will augment the TCO.
  • The acquisition of a software licence.

    The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) can escalate more when considering the expenses of solutions utilised to administer your server infrastructure. Take into account the expenses of any software required for this function and ensure the cost of any personalised resolutions, even if developed in-house, is added to the TCO.
  • Additional personnel.

    To ensure the seamless operation of your server infrastructure, you may need to hire more staff, either permanently or temporarily. Such expenses should not be disregarded, especially when weighing up the cost savings linked to cloud computing compared to on-premises hardware. Check out this article for more insights on cost savings related to cloud computing.
  • Expenses linked to energy usage and production.

    Substantial energy is needed to maintain servers while they are operating to their maximum capacity. Thus, the cost of additional energy should be factored in when evaluating the Total Cost of Ownership.
  • Physical space.

    Maintaining on-premises servers demands physical space, which adds to the expenses. Therefore, the cost of accommodating servers must be encompassed in the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), even if the premises are owned.
  • Asset management.

    If the server infrastructure is expansive, the IT department will need to spend more time efficiently monitoring it. Therefore, the additional effort required for asset management must be included in the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

It is evident that establishing and managing a private network calls for a significant financial expenditure on hardware and software. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) may also involve rent/lease payments, utility bills, and repairs. By conducting an extensive cost analysis, you can determine the financial advantages of shifting to the cloud over maintaining the infrastructure on-premises. Use this data to gain insights into the profitability of cloud computing.

Calculating Your Return on Investment (ROI)

After determining your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), you should proceed to compute the expenses associated with transitioning to the cloud. Evaluating your Return on Investment (ROI) entails an understanding of the amount you are investing and the cost savings you might incur after making the switch.

Forecasting cloud computing expenses can be significantly challenging due to the various costs associated with using cloud services. In my view, migrating from an on-premises server infrastructure to the cloud involves four primary expenses:

  • Cloud-based telecommuting and other operations.

    The cost of mandatory subscriptions is one of the significant concerns to be taken into account while migrating to cloud computing. It is crucial to select a pricing plan that aligns with your requirements, whether it involves a flat fee, fee per user, or fee per action.
  • Internal resources.

    The expenses of migrating to the cloud will also entail the cost of the time and effort expended by your IT staff and other employees involved in the process.
  • Software licensing.

    When shifting to the cloud, the process may require you to acquire new software licenses or abandon any licenses you own but are not using.
  • Additional expertise or proficiency.

    If your internal team does not possess the necessary skills to execute the cloud migration smoothly, it might be advantageous to seek the assistance of cloud professionals to guarantee a seamless transition.

Being mindful of the possible expenses associated with switching to a new cloud provider is critical. Apart from the more apparent costs, there may be additional fees for upgrading various components of your digital infrastructure to be compatible with the new provider. Therefore, it is imperative to stay completely informed about the costs incurred throughout the entire process and to remain watchful for any unforeseen expenses.

After collecting the necessary data, you can juxtapose the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) with the cost of migrating to the cloud. If cloud migration proves to be more cost-effective than maintaining your current infrastructure, it would be prudent to contemplate on making the move. Additionally, you should calculate the Return on Investment (ROI), which can be achieved by using the following formula.

Return on Investment (ROI) = (Profit from Investment – Initial Investment) / Initial Investment.

Subtracting the cost of cloud computing from the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) enables you to calculate the anticipated Return on Investment (ROI). For instance, if the annual cost of maintaining an on-premises infrastructure amounts to $50,000, and migration to the cloud would cost $30,000, the net profit would come to $20,000.

Based on a one-year Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of $50,000, the estimated Return on Investment (ROI) shows a negative value (-0.3), but this should not be perceived as conclusive proof for refraining from migrating to the cloud.

Incorporating avant-garde innovations can sometimes be daunting; nonetheless, the Return on Investment (ROI) tends to improve after the first year. A three-year agreement for a cloud computing service, for instance, would provide a substantially advantageous ROI.

(60,000 – 30,000) / 30,000 = 1

Taking a three-year timeline into account can amplify benefits threefold. As expected, the Return on Investment (ROI) demonstrates a noteworthy increase. It has been noted that longer-term commitment to cloud computing leads to greater ROI. While migration expenses are a single upfront cost, the long-term advantages make it an investment well worth considering.

It May Be Worth Considering Moving to the Cloud

Even if you have concerns concerning the significant upfront cost, you can calculate your expected Return on Investment (ROI) accurately. Armed with that knowledge, you can embark on transitioning to the cloud right away, enjoying all of its numerous benefits and reaping the anticipated ROI.

Keep in mind that savings and earnings are not static throughout the year. The calculated Return on Investment (ROI) could be affected by fluctuations in your company’s growth and changes in pricing offered by your cloud provider. Thankfully, the aforementioned formula can provide an estimated ROI, empowering you to leverage the potential benefits of cloud technology as you shape your strategy.

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