Top five myths of the cloud — busted!
From security to SaaS, this expert advice will help you avoid falling for the most common cloud fables.
Cloud computing has enabled integration of resources across the enterprise, where information is shared on demand across a single network rather than confined to specific departments. With this capacity comes the potential for optimisation of work processes and resource allocation — but only if the cloud is efficiently applied.
Unfortunately, migrating complex, enterprise-wide technology solutions to the cloud is not a simple linear formula. Cloud implementation should not merely be an issue for the IT department; it is an organisational change that affects information distribution throughout the business and, therefore, must be planned and executed with the same care as any other business strategy.
The value of moving to the cloud is well documented and Australian organisations are already seizing the benefits across a wide spectrum of industries. However, while we have been ranked fourth across Asia–Pacific in the 2016 Cloud Readiness Index by the Asia Cloud Computing Association, the report shows that businesses here are still struggling to keep pace with our regional peers.
In light of that, here are my top five fables and pieces of mythbusting advice to help businesses ensure they are getting things right.
Myth 1: opting for cloud is a technology choice
Wrong. Choosing a cloud-based system involves more than just understanding if it is technically feasible, or knowing what type of cloud would be most suitable for the business. Moving to the cloud is a business decision and should be treated as such.
Whether you are planning on moving a single solution to the cloud or your entire organisation’s IT, you must have a good understanding of the goals you want to achieve. Cloud simply provides capacity, but businesses must still leverage this capability in a strategic manner. You must consider the potential business benefits or downsides, productivity gains and information security issues.
Each deployment, each business and each cloud instance will be different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to any of this. Sometimes cloud will be the answer, sometimes on-premises systems will and, at other times, hybrid offerings will be the key to success.
Myth 2: the cloud is not secure
Wrong — although sometimes it seems that way. A 2015 study published by the Cloud Security Alliance revealed that data security is still the number one concern holding back organisations from moving their systems to the cloud — but the perception and the reality don’t seem to match.
IT service provision is a cloud vendor’s core business and, as such, they have to ensure that technology, physical locations and personnel all comply with stringent security standards. Often, individual enterprises simply do not have the resources to achieve the levels of security and compliance that are table-stakes for cloud providers.
That said, do not simply assume that all cloud providers are secure. Get them to demonstrate their security capabilities and spell out their security processes and certifications to you.
More importantly, every organisation needs to understand the security, governance and regulatory compliance requirements of the industry in which it operates.
Unless you deeply understand what you need from a cloud vendor, you won’t know if they can provide the right service and security.
Myth 3: cloud is an all-or-nothing proposition
Not necessarily. Many vendors these days are pushing a cloud-first strategy or claim that cloud is the only way. However, the reality is that it does not always make either business, regulatory or technical sense for organisations to put all IT assets in the cloud.
Increasingly, organisations are adopting hybrid deployment options, having some systems and processes on-premises, others in a private or public cloud and all of these systems integrated. Often, this is due to regulatory or data sovereignty requirements, or simply business drivers that require some information to be kept close to the organisation.
Today, there are many possible options for organisations to consider, such as public and private cloud, managed services and hybrid deployment options. It is vital that all options are thoroughly explored and a carefully considered choice is made around those that work best for the organisation from both a technical and business perspective.
Myth 4: cloud is only good for saving money
Wrong. While cloud migration generally has the potential to reduce capital expenditure, and consolidating systems can help generate savings, this is often only part of the story. As the experience is different for each organisation, the benefits should be linked to the key reason they chose to migrate in the first place.
Some IT departments will see service levels improve and find they can offer 24/7 support despite having limited staff numbers. Others will gain from not having to spend time and money on upgrading or maintain software.
In turn, businesses experience greater productivity as they are able to focus on higher value work, as opposed to fretting over administrative and maintenance tasks.
At the end of the day, it is vital to explore the benefits of moving to the cloud in a strategic sense. This means evaluating total cost of ownership and wider organisational gains, rather than simply focusing on upfront costs.
Myth 5: cloud = SaaS
Wrong — the cloud is much more than SaaS. While SaaS is a prominently featured example of cloud usage, it certainly does not encompass all the possibilities.
Many companies are looking at how the cloud can provide services to their business — such as e-commerce, supply chain transactions, platform or infrastructure services.
Others want a managed services offering, hosting applications in a private cloud environment, with access to dedicated functionality, application customisation and integration.
With a growing number of options available, it is important to evaluate carefully what you are trying to achieve. There are lots of deployment options available — you just have to find the right one to meet your business requirements.
Ultimately, cloud is merely the means to achieve a strategic purpose. It is important for organisations to bear in mind the end objective when it comes to deploying on the cloud so that it fulfils a function of the business, rather than being just a function in itself.
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