Whenever we witness the rapid adoption of technology, we also must sift through the hyperbole and misconceptions that follow. Cloud computing is one of those technologies where everyone has an opinion, and yet there is still a lot of confusion when it comes to picking through the facts and myths.
One might expect there to be confusion and misinformation when so much money is on the line. Gartner predicts the cloud computing market to reach $411 billion by 2020. The good news for businesses is that this market is competitive, and choices abound. The big cloud providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google garner a lot of attention, but smaller and more nimble niche players are thriving as well.
As you make decisions about your infrastructure, it is wise to separate the myth from the reality. Knowing what to expect before beginning any major deployment will put your company in a better position to take advantage of the features of the cloud. To the extent that cloud services are mainstream today, let us look at several myths and realities surrounding the market.
Top Cloud Computing Myths
- Loss of Control – You will lose control of having to maintain a physical server. That means you will not be required to swap hard drives or install extra RAM as your business scales. This will free up the time to manage your data, which is still yours to control. You still control who and how users access the data and will still have control over data flows and work processes.
- Cloud will Kill On-Prem – Many applications will run in the cloud, but some will not, or it will be too big of an inconvenience to port them to the cloud. You may be using legacy code or have internal dependencies that make it too expensive or difficult to migrate. And some companies have security contracts that flat our forbid moving sensitive applications and/or data to the public cloud. It is not an all-or-none proposition. Moving the 75% that works well in the cloud will free up the time to focus on the 25% that needs more attention on-prem.
- More Sensitive to External Threats – The cloud does not remove the threat of data breaches, DDoS attacks or other external attacks. Several high-profile attacks have proven this, but this is not a solid reason to avoid the cloud. Cloud providers all have security plans in place such as encryption and sophisticated firewalls to fend off most attacks. A small company may not have a security expert on staff while Google has over 750 experts on staff with the goal of keeping their network and your data secure.
- The Cloud is More Expensive – It might be. It depends on several factors such as the amount of data you store, number of users as well as the number of applications, and your backup needs. What the cloud does very well is scale to your needs quickly which means you only pay for the computing power you need. There is no need to build out overkill servers that you might need years from now. The cloud provider builds the cost of security and maintenance into their service, so you do not need staff to handle those tasks exclusively.
Top Cloud Computing Realities
- Faster to Market – For many years, consultants promised the cloud would lower the total cost of ownership while freeing companies to invest the savings elsewhere. This makes sense because IT needed a reason to justify their desire to move to the cloud. But TOC is just one part of the equation. The ability to scale, innovate and bring products to market faster have proven to have a greater impact on business than merely cost savings.
- More than One Cloud – The public cloud garners more notoriety than private clouds, in both media coverage and investment. But the public cloud is not the only player. Both private and hybrid clouds play a role for many companies. In fact, many companies deploy hybrid clouds that integrate data and processes across both public and private clouds. A study from SUSE has hybrid cloud strategies growing faster than both private and public clouds. There is no such thing as one true cloud.
- There is more than Amazon – Pundits used to refer to Microsoft as the 800 lb. gorilla because they dominated the software landscape for decades. And certainly, a lot of people speak in similar terms when referring to Amazon’s cloud presence. Yes, Amazon offers many cloud services and a lot of Fortune 500 companies rely on them. But they are far from the only player. Google, Microsoft, and Rackspace also offer many competing cloud services but integrate their own technology into their offerings like how Microsoft does with its .net-based Azure platform.
- Demand for IT Staff – As the cloud become popular, many IT people believed their jobs were in jeopardy. If a company moved everything to the cloud, they would not need staff to deal with IT tasks anymore. But that notion has not come to fruition. The cloud is a tool. It still requires people with strong IT skills to plan, implement and monitor. The cloud does not replace your IT staff unless you had people on staff installing hard drives and RAM all day. The cloud will free your IT staff to work on more strategic goals and projects instead of installing Windows Server updates.
Every business has unique needs, and not all of them will be met by the cloud. Consultants pushing cloud services, hybrid or on-prem are sure to point out the advantage of their offer while talking up the negatives of their competition. The cloud is especially ripe for this approach given the complexity and confusion that comes with such a business-critical service.
There will always be laggards who do not believe anyone can secure their data as well as they can or who worried the cloud will make their skills obsolete. Once you get past the hype and dogma, you can determine what type of cloud service is best for your company along with what company will serve you best.
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