Daily, IT personnel are under pressure to do more with less and maximize the return on investment throughout the entire IT infrastructure business process. I see this scenario daily and it puzzles me why business owners do not invest in the proper IT infrastructure to run their business. After all if the IT infrastructure fails so does the business and I cannot recall visiting any business within the last 10 years that worked strictly with pen and paper.
Interestingly enough, this business mindset has pushed the innovation of Cloud Computing. No more hardware investment? No more Software investment and licensing costs? Improved productivity throughout the whole organization, including the IT department? Who wouldn’t want to jump on that bandwagon? Well believe it or not there is tremendous push back from business owners to adapt. Why? Mostly fear of the unknown and the thought of security issues. So let’s look at some of the largest Myths darkening the cloud computing scene. However before that you must understand the three main types of cloud computing:
- SAAS (Software as a Service): This type of cloud computing delivers a single application through a web browser to hundreds of customers through a tiered multitenant design. The customer usually pays a monthly fee per user to utilize the software and normally pays no upfront licensing or hardware costs. A few cloud application examples would be Salesforce, Google Apps, Zoho CRM, and Quickbooks online.
- IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service): This is also known as utility computing. This idea was developed by hosted managed service providers that can provide elastic server performance on demand. Utility computing allows for Virtual storage, Servers, and Virtual computers to be streamed across the internet as if those devices were sitting on your local network. This form of cloud computing allows the customer to utilize enterprise level equipment at a fixed or flexible monthly cost without the need to maintain such equipment. A few examples would be Amazon’s Elastic Cloud, Next Horizon’s Cloud computing network, 3Tera’s Applogic, and Liquid Computing’s LiquidQ.
- PAAS (Platform as a Service): The last major variation of cloud computing allows application developers to design applications around an elastic cloud infrastructure. This allows for fast number crunching and data analysis by utilizing a platform backed by thousands of servers giving the application developer complete freedom of performance. Some examples include Force.com, Google App Engine, and Microsoft Azure.
Now to the top 5 Myths!
Myth 1: Data is not as Secure in the Cloud!
In truth the risk of a security breach is for the most part the same as those faced by traditional infrastructure solutions. Most providers actually have higher security than most traditional networks because of the economies of scale of the cloud business. Cloud providers typically prioritize security as a core part of their business and service offerings; and have made a significate investment securing the cloud network. A qualified provider should have multiple security measures in place, from dedicated intrusion prevention and security appliances to advanced encryption techniques to insure the highest level of PCI, ISO, HIPAA, and ISAE security standards. Choosing cloud services would allow security to be a shared responsibility rather than having to protect your network alone.
Myth 2: It’s in the Cloud no need for Support!
The truth is different cloud providers provide different levels of support based on your Service Level Agreement. Some IAAS providers offer full managed services for a fee on top of the IAAS utility cost, and some SAAS companies only support the software they provide you. However, no matter what cloud topology you choose you will need support with either the software that the cloud provider is providing, or for the software you are injecting into the cloud network. Designing your ongoing support needs is important to insure that the productivity of your employees are not hindered by cloud computing.
Myth 3: Once I select a cloud provider I can never move!
In truth is this could possibly happen. However, if you choose a provider that utilizes industry standards vender lock-in is something you should not worry about with IAAS. Virtual Machine storage technology has 5 different standards and each standard has their own conversion software to convert to the competitor storage type. SAAS on the other hand will be up to the actual software provider. For example Quickbooks online export may not necessary import into Microsoft Dynamics. So when choosing a SAAS provider ensures that you have industry standard data export covered in your contract.
Myth 4: Every Cloud company offers the same services!
The reality is not all clouds are created equal. Remember that there are 3 main types of cloud computing and that each provider will have their own twist on their offerings. At the core they are all the same types of service but the additional services they offer on top of the underlying core sets each provider a part.
Myth 5: Cloud computing is a fad!
The reality is if you believe this you should think again. According to Gartner, server revenue was down 5% in the first quarter of 2013 while analysts are expecting Amazon Web Services will go from $2 billion dollars in revenue to more than 24 billion by 2022. Cloud computing is approaching maturity and standards are being built around cloud computing daily. Within the next 3 to 4 years, I would expect to see constant innovation and refinement to ensure cloud computing meets the needs of every user including the home pc.
In the end/in conclusion, the thought about migrating to cloud computing really makes sense in two scenarios. The first is when your IT infrastructure has decayed to a point where you are thinking about upgrading, or if you are a new startup business. The Cloud model will be around for a long time , however you should carefully plan to insure your business would benefit from the positive gain that cloud computing can bring.