Few tech concepts are shrouded in as much mystery as cloud computing. I actually get a kick out of hearing non-tech savvy people try to make sense of it before I step in and “attempt” to break it down for them in Layman’s language. But even well-traveled tech geeks can easily fall victim to the mythology of the cloud.
The Cloud Is the Internet
When I’m discussing this topic with someone who’s really baffled by computer stuff, like my Dad, this is the cop-out explanation I use – because they’re just not getting it. However, not all web applications and services fit the bill. In order to qualify as “the cloud”, an online platform must provide self-service access, on-demand scalability, and the ability to pay per user, or as you go.
Public Clouds are Insecure
I’ve got an earth-rattling newsflash for you – all systems are technically insecure. Sony Pictures has some of the most sophisticated security technology money can buy. That didn’t stop criminals from hacking into its network and exposing sensitive data on pre-released movies and personal information belonging to some pretty heated celebrities.
The point is that any system can be brought down – whether it’s housing multiple tenants or exclusively supporting your company. It’s an unfortunate reality, but cloud service providers take a diligent approach to security by investing in technologies like encryption, malware protection, and tools that allow them to sniff out attacks before they inflict a lot of damage. Combined with your own data protection and disaster recovery plans, the cloud can deliver the biggest peace of mind you’ll ever find.
Private Clouds are Secure
The Cloud is a Cheap Alternative
Vendors often sell the cloud as a budget-friendly alternative to on premise solutions. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a cheaper option in every case. In fact, the subscription-based pricing model means there’s a chance you’ll pay more than you would for the same infrastructure in-house. The good thing is that a low upfront capital outlay and simplified maintenance generally makes the cloud a cost effective and valuable investment.
The Cloud Guarantees Hassle-Free IT
When you move your apps and data to the cloud, you also transfer a burdensome load along with them. While the service provider handles system updates, patching, and day-to-day maintenance, the rigorous grind of IT never truly ends. In-house IT teams are still responsible for authenticating users, backing up data, and delegating tasks in the cloud.
The Cloud and Virtualization are One in the Same
Cloud computing and virtualization are often spoken in the same breath, in some cases, interchangeably. The cloud sometimes uses virtualization to deliver services, but these are two different technologies capable of thriving all on their own. From servers to storage, robust virtual infrastructures can be launched and managed entirely without the cloud. And while most vendors use a hypervisor to share resources across multiple servers, alternatives like Docker are steadily proving that cloud infrastructures can exist without the involvement and overhead of virtualization.
The Cloud Isn’t Primed For Big Business
Instead of buying new hardware and applications, smaller capital-strapped organizations can tap into the cloud’s utility model for the resources they need, and leverage the vendor’s expertise for the IT capabilities they lack to tame the infrastructure. However, larger companies are slowly scaling up to enterprise favorites like Microsoft Office and SharePoint, which exist in Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud respectively. According to RightScales’s State of the Cloud survey, businesses with more than 1000 employees are increasingly going from cloud watchers to adopters.
There Is Only One Cloud
This couldn’t be further from the truth. While they may be linked up with partner servers, giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all have their own clouds, each with their own strengths and perhaps some weaknesses as well. Availability, security, and reliability differs from one vendor to the next. Your experience will depend on your ability to choose the right service provider and negotiate rock-solid SLAs that protect your interests in the event of security breaches or outages. Assuming all clouds are created equal is how you go from myth to mistake.
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