Cloud service providers can make compelling and simple sales pitches in terms of cost of individual services-$100 per user per year sounds pretty good.

But "hidden" expenses can alter a company's outlook. Costs related to people, processes, and architecture associated with both the transition and the operations require analysis and planning before signing up for a business case based on a move to the cloud.

CIOs and other IT professionals are already well acquainted with such expenses, but the challenge will lie in uncovering them in the relatively unfamiliar cloud model and determining accountability for each.

As companies consider taking the next steps into the cloud, senior leadership will need to explore four key questions to help uncover the hidden costs:

  1. What are the viable paths to move (or replace) legacy applications into the cloud?
  2. What architectural changes are required to integrate cloud and non-cloud applications?
  3. How should we change our technology and operations processes to take advantage of different procurement, provisioning, and management models?
  4. How will a private cloud-built for the sole use of one enterprise-give me more flexibility than current hosting or public cloud models? What are the cost trade-offs?