Every strategic IT decision you make demands to be considered carefully. You have to evaluate risks, evaluate rewards, and in the end decide which choice makes the most sense for your business. But sometimes deliberate decision-making can be more easily said than done. Often, especially when a technology is relatively new, straightforward evaluation is muddied in a mist of myths that can readily be mistaken for fact.
Cloud Computing certainly has its share of these myths. On the reward side, Cloud computing can offer efficiency, cost savings, and an opportunity for your IT department to dedicate themselves to higher value projects.
But what about those risks? Which achieve the outsized proportions of myths, and what are the facts?
Somehow, it seems like it awakens an almost primal fear. If you move to a Cloud solution, that means that your data will be out of your hands, off your property, and out there – in some puffy-sounding cloud. How could that possibly be secure?
The most common myth is that a move to Cloud Computing generates a new and unacceptable security risk. As with many myths, this one begins with a legitimate concern. We know that data in the Cloud can be compromised, we’ve heard the stories. But, wait. Data stored on your very own server could also be stolen or maliciously destroyed, too. Anyway, isn’t your enterprise, like everyone else’s, already networked through the Internet? But even if somehow it’s not, it only takes one malefactor with a flashdrive to carry off gigs of sensitive data. It wasn’t a high-tech cyberattack that resulted in reams of sensitive, confidential US diplomatic cables being stolen. It was just a guy with a rewritable CD.
So, like everyone else, you take steps against a whole variety of threats. And , naturally, so do responsible vendors of Cloud services. The difference is, for a Cloud service provider security isn’t just another thing they have to do, it’s a core competency. Plus, when they’re planning security, they enjoy an economy of scale unattainable even to large businesses on their own.
Also, you can rest easy that really, your data is always your data. Always. No one is going to look at your data, no one else will move it without your command. And, for extra security, it can be encrypted not only where it resides, but in transit as well. It can be secured so that even the service provider can’t see it.
Control of Data
Still, just thinking about passing your data into the cloud can cause consternation. Changing the way you handle your data can stir other mythic concerns. What if, for instance, a vendor takes your data away and makes it difficult to get back? Maybe they even pull some sort of dirty trick to lock you in. Well, we all know being locked-in to a solution can be a bad for all kinds of reasons. It happens with custom-built, on-premise solutions all too frequently.
But the truth is that moving to a Cloud solution often lowers switching barriers and costs compared to on premise solutions. For one thing, you can move into a customized Cloud solution in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost it might take for someone to build an in-house application system. In fact, Cloud customers sometimes begin fully enjoying the benefits of their new solution before consultants working on an on-premise application are even through poring through use-cases.
And it just doesn’t make sense for a reputable Cloud solution provider to resort to tricky lock-in shenanigans. Instead, to make their business proposition make sense, Cloud providers furnish convenient ways to export your data should you ever decide you need to move on.
Service and downtime
Occasionally, you hear the myth that Cloud services will suddenly cause your data to be prone to going missing because of inconvenient service outages. Again, this myth is rooted in a sound concern, but becomes a problem when it grows out of control. Perhaps the genesis of this fear is in your experience with in-house solutions: they can be prone to outages and downtime. While prudence demands that you carefully review any service level agreement, Cloud solution providers commonly guarantee 99.5% uptime. Also, because barriers and costs for switching are often lower with Cloud solutions, providers know they have to provide top-flight service to retain your business.
Also, because upgrades and maintenance are taken care of on the service provider’s side, that’s another source of downtime and cost you can move off your books.
Cloud Solutions Don’t Fit My Business
One occasionally runs into the myth that Cloud solutions are only fit well with a certain size of company, or an enterprise with certain kinds of requirements.
Cloud solutions are designed to operate best with any size of company, small or large. While Cloud Computing can suit smaller enterprises’ needs, companies like Walmart and Accenture have also moved to Cloud solutions. Better yet, Cloud solutions are, by nature, massively scalable. So even if your business is projecting rapid growth, you won’t have to worry about changing application systems to meet changing business requirements. Cloud solutions easily scale to accommodate your company’s growth.
Although it may arise from different sources (an experience with a consumer-grade online application, for instance), you sometimes hear the mistaken idea that Cloud solutions are only customizable in trivial ways. On the contrary, most Cloud solutions can be tailored to map precisely to your business’ unique workflow and demands and to seamlessly integrate with your other applications and systems.
When you’re evaluating any application system, you’ve got to fully account for all important issues, for instance downtime and security. To do less would be unthinkable. And when you look at Cloud solutions coolly separating fact from myth, you see that Cloud services actually offer benefits that may reduce current, in-house downtime and security issues. And that’s how it often is with myths. While they grow up around real issues, you can’t get a solid handle on the facts until the myth is stripped away.