Thursday, February 6, 2014

5 Cloud Computing Myths Busted

According to Wikipedia Cloud computing is an expression used to describe a variety of computing concepts that involve a large number of computers connected through a real-time communication network such as the Internet. So what are the myths?

#1. The Cloud is one entity

People often talk about ‘the Cloud’ as if it is just one entity, service or solution housed in one location. There is a common misconception that when you put your data in the Cloud, it is going to sit in one place alongside the data of everyone else who is using Cloud computing.
The reality is that ‘the Cloud’ has almost become a buzz word used by IT people over the last number years. There are many definitions of Cloud computing but in general terms ‘the Cloud’ is a service or pool of services accessed over the internet. Typically Cloud services are run out of large data centres spread across the world. Which data centre your information is stored in depends on the provider and solution you choose, so be sure to do your homework on this.
There’s no definite figure on how many data centres are in the world but some estimates put it at around 500,000.

#2. Cloud means the end of hardware

Although Cloud services can really make a difference to your hardware footprint, you will always need some sort of device to access your applications and data. While Cloud can do away with many things including the need for numerous on-site servers, businesses will still need PCs, laptops, tablets or smartphones to access data.
Hardware is also required even if you are running your entire business in the Cloud. For example, in our own company, all of our phone systems, wireless access points and firewalls are Cloud-based. While these still require some hardware, the management of these systems is done through the Cloud which makes configuration and monitoring of performance much easier.

#3. Cloud Computing is not secure

There is a lot of hype surrounding this myth, particularly in the wake of spying revelations earlier this year. However, it is important to point out security is at the heart of the vast majority of Cloud solutions; this is why choosing your provider carefully is important.
The reality is that most businesses cannot compete with the level of security that is offered by Cloud providers given that they have teams of security experts working 24/7. The amount of time and money invested into securing both the technology and the physical locations is unparalleled.
If a business is particularly concerned about access to their data, private Cloud or hybrid solutions can provide some extra peace of mind. However, the reality is that once the correct policies are in place (necessary encryptions, two-factor authentications, data protection legislation etc.) the level of security you can get with Cloud solutions is often far superior to what would be practical at a local level.

#4. Cloud is cheaper than traditional IT

Many of the arguments in support of Cloud technologies are based on the notion that Cloud is cheaper than traditional IT. I am asked every day whether Cloud can bring costs down and the real answer to this question is: it depends. The price you will pay for Cloud services will vary according to the type of business you run and the solution you need, the amount of users you have and the security that you need in place.
Similarly, moving to the Cloud also brings about a lot of hidden costs such as migration and integration costs, potential bandwidth upgrades and investment in staff training for new systems. While all of this may add up to more than what you currently spend on IT, it is important to remember the added value that Cloud solutions are bringing to your business. This includes increased flexibility for remote working, greater team collaboration and improved back up and disaster recovery.
Cloud should be looked at as a business enabler rather than a simple replacement for traditional IT. And while it could end up being marginally more or less expensive than your current spend, the ability to pay on a per user per month basis makes it easier for businesses to manage and predict costs in the long run.

#5. Cloud is the answer to everything

Many Cloud advocates would have you believe that the answer to every IT problem is Cloud. This is simply not true. In fact, more often than not, Cloud services are the answer to business process issues rather than IT troubles. There are still a number of industry-specific applications and software out there that may not be 100% compatible with Cloud technologies. As Cloud is not an ‘all or nothing’ solution, you can easily move some elements of your business while keeping others on site for the time being.
My advice would be that if you are curious about Cloud technology and want to explore options for your business, do it one step at a time. Keep it straightforward and begin by moving simple systems like email and disaster recovery to the Cloud.  This will allow you to get familiar with the technology and make informed decisions going forward.

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