10 Big Misconceptions About Cloud Computing
The cloud is growing larger every day, with more and more customers either storing their data there or using its other functions. In a time of rapid change, it's easy for the cloud to be seen by some as a panacea to cure their many IT ills, while for others it presents as a source of impending woe.
1: My current computer systems will work just as well in the cloud as they do today.
Sadly, no. A network requires servers that can be set up either locally or in the cloud. However, servers in the cloud are shared and the management of that sharing incurs performance overhead. This performance hit could impact specialized industry systems designed for on-site servers. As a user, you do not have control over when that might happen.
2: My current means of working with very large sets of data will be the same -- if not better -- in the cloud.
Not true. The speed of the connection between where you access your data and where it is stored in your cloud might not be as fast as the high speeds you may be used to with an on-site server.
3: Applications I’m accustomed to using throughout my organization will work seamlessly after their support systems go to the cloud.
False. Using the cloud to host any application also means moving all of its supporting elements into to the cloud. While this shift can be beneficial, if access to the cloud is interrupted in any way, productivity could grind to a halt.
4: For my organization, the cloud is an either-or proposition: I can either be in the cloud or I can keep my current setup with physical servers.
In reality, the most effective way for an organization to see the benefits of the cloud is to use both setups simultaneously as they slowly transition into the cloud.
5: Virtualizing my servers is all I need for my company to succeed in the cloud.
Virtualizing is the process of taking a given task into the cloud, where a physical server creates a ‘virtual machine’ to help you complete it more quickly than you could on your own. But a virtualized server by itself is not enough to succeed. Just like there is more to a vacation than choosing the destination, success in the cloud relies on the automated management infrastructure around the server working well -- like packing the right clothes for that getaway.
6: The only way to keep hackers from breaking into my cloud is to build my own.
Not true! In fact, the variety of attacks a cloud sustains can actually make it more secure. That’s because the engineers protecting the network will be able to identify and correct more weaknesses. But that doesn't mean you need to build your own cloud. As your security needs grow, any increase in resources directed towards securing your cloud can provide an advantage, whether in money saved or attacks defeated.
7: All I need is a cloud to save money on my IT needs.
Not so fast. The cloud is able to easily adjust the amount of computing power you're using, giving a lot of flexibility to your budget. Focusing on cost alone, though, and not investigating how you might achieve significant efficiencies with new cloud technologies after you migrate could diminish your return on the cloud investment.
8: Once I’m in the cloud, I can help employees be more productive by giving them apps for their smartphones.
They keys to a successful app are often misunderstood. While a cloud’s ability to provide enormous computing power can help an app succeed, other factors can be equally important, like whether the app will work without a network connection. A hybrid approach combining local and offline data storage while interfacing with the cloud on an as-available basis is one best practice.
9: It is easy to change from one cloud provider to another whenever I want to.
Not true. In fact, the bottom lines of many niche cloud providers require them to lock in their customers, typically with long-term contracts or painfully high early termination fees. If you don’t go with an industry-leading provider, make sure to read all the fine print and get a professional second opinion.
10: I’m worried that my cloud provider is spying on my activity in their cloud.
With privacy on many minds these days, the multi-billion-dollar cloud computing industry could collapse if even one major cloud provider was caught snooping on their user’s data -- or helping others do so. These providers are actually building security mechanisms to guarantee they themselves cannot access the data.
A.J. Clark is president of Thermopylae Sciences + Technology based in Washington, D.C.