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7 Misconceptions About Cloud Computing That Could Be Holding Your Business Back

Cloud Computing

7 Misconceptions About Cloud Computing That Could Be Holding Your Business Back image 5442962755 4a87be8d7e z 300x199Whilst commonly painted in the press as an unreliable and risky approach to storing your data, cloud computing is actually an excellent way to create a more agile technological infrastructure for your company and cut costs by reducing capital. The article below hopes to debunk some of the misconceptions surrounding cloud computing which might stand between your company and the successful (and profitable) fulfilment of its objectives for mobility, longevity and efficiency.

1. It’s a fad

Seen as no substitute for the present day computing model, cloud architecture is both credible and efficient. Despite the idea that the cloud is somehow disconnected from current computing (indeed, more than half of all Americans claim they do not use cloud computing) in fact if you are using online banking, social media, eBay or Gmail, you’re already a part of the technological revolution. Big contenders like Apple and Google have been keen to embrace cloud computing, affirming the idea that this is a technology revolution with longevity. Dismissing cloud computing as a nothing more than a passing trend is an oversight that is likely to cost you dearly as you continue to pay top dollar for the hosting and upkeep of your data.

2. It’s not as secure as conventional data servers

It’s name might not inspire confidence, yet cloud computing is actually a very safe and substantial way to store, share and secure your data. Whilst the media has been keen to spread tales of cloud computing’s unreliability, in fact by putting control of the process back into the hands of the organization directly, cloud computing restores command to your business. Although it is important to correct the assumption that cloud computing is accompanied by host-based protection tools, there is no need to rule it out as a useful tool. By not concentrating data in one site (for example by developing a back up strategy based on having separate server locations) and using encryption software and behaviour-based key management services it is easy to build additional security around your data.

3. It’s costly

There is no denying that there will be costs involved in making the switch to the cloud, but as it removes the requirement for IT management in the long term cloud computing will save your business money.

4. It’s complicated

Another misconception about cloud computing is that it is too complex to execute without severe hassle and compromised productivity. Yet with many different types of cloud computing to choose from, your company should have no problem in choosing a compliment to meet your needs and keep things simple for staff and managers alike.

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5. It’s meant for big companies

Cloud computing is not the reserve of corporations in the FTSE top 50. By allowing companies to maintain their hardware onsite and simultaneously avoid having to obtain costly software licenses, solutions like virtual desktop infrastructure can help businesses of any size to reduce their expenditure significantly.

6. Changes are always technical rather than strategic

Assuming that the cloud is simply a matter of implementing technological changes to the way your company is run is a big mistake. Plans must be set up to incorporate processes – both strategic and staff derived – to reap the full benefits offered by the cloud. The alignment between corporate strategy and technology encouraged by the cloud is a great way to utilise a world of commodities with the benefit of using internal resources.

7. If the net goes down, the cloud becomes useless

Whilst in principal this is true, you can and should be aware that your net connection can become a point of vulnerability for this computing system and prepare accordingly. Having a backup connection with another provider is a pragmatic and sensible step for any company; indeed in the current business climate it is extremely unlikely that your business would be operating without a connectivity ‘safety net’ anyway.

By bringing about many benefits including scalability, agility and fast provisioning, cloud computing helps businesses at all sizes and to achieve financial growth. In encouraging companies and individuals to find new ways to interact and create innovative new business models, the cloud is an invaluable tool in the journey to making your business adaptable and efficient.

Comments on this Article: 40

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  1. Graham says:

    Yes – secure and scalable agility is what most of our clients want.

    They seek to outperform others by being more dynamic and at lower cost than competitors.

    With our secure Virtual Datarooms, our clients save time (and money) on their project budgets by safely uploading, downloading, and managing sensitive documents within our clandestine cloud storage base that moves as required by them and those with whom they are collaborating in private.

    Such services are invaluable for project teams which want to securely save money on transactions, market research, and other time-sensitive confidential projects.

    Happy to discuss if anyone seeks advice – graham@ctc-aspire.co.uk

  2. Listen: Cloud works. You just need to understand enough about what it IS versus what it ISN’T, so you can make good decisions: http://answerguy.com/2013/03/13/influency-owning-your-own-cloud/

  3. Joe says:

    Very good unbiased article about cloud computing and its security. Yes, it is all the media’s fault for spreading vicious rumors about the unreliability and less safe environment of cloud computing.

    Vicious lies all of them. Glad I am not as gullible as some people might be.

  4. Joe says:

    Like most things cloud, this is long on hype, short on facts. You won’t overcome the objections of an untrusting party with hand waving. Cheaper? How much and why? Secure? Where are the facts? Reliable? what are the numbers? What about Netflix, who was at the mercy of AWS when their service went down on multiple occasions? Get specific.

  5. Wolf Duttlinger says:

    Everything state ok
    I’m missing the downsides though for a more balanced approach:
    - what cloud saves on local infrastructure and mangement of if could easily eat in secure bandwidth
    - cloud means to seperate part of a service fulfillment from your company – and introduces the need of SLA’s, written documentation etc. – hands-on cutlures will struggle with this

  6. If you pay your bills online or access your bank account online – you are “in the cloud.” If you make reservations, buy tickets, order books, stream movies and music or post your vacation photos online – you are “in the cloud.” When you get your email from your internet account, you are “in the cloud.” The pervasive applications that we love to use in our everyday lives are, for the most part, cloud-based computing technologies. The cloud is subject to more controls, audits, redundancies and high-level IT support than nearly anything a small-to-midsize business can reasonably afford to do by itself. The ROI is nearly immediate for cloud-based technologies and they work. I am more than happy to speak with anyone about how McGladrey, LLP can help your business be more agile, efficient and profitable by applying cloud-based technology.

  7. Like most trends, cloud computing has it’s detractors and prosletizers. The truth is, like any technology, it is not a panacea. For offsite storage, backups and DR(to complement – not replace) your “near” storage and backups, and for a host of excellent apps, the cloud can be a great addition to your overall computing strategy.

    But be careful. VOIP UC (unified communications)in the cloud is possible, but requires that your needs match the cloud’s strengths. Don’t assume that a cloud-based phone system will be best for your organization. Do your homework. A large number of small sites (or teleworkers) can be a good match. A large HQ with hundreds of phones – not so much. And has been said, don’t forget the challenges of training, on-going support and maximizing the competitive advantage of your investment. Just because it’s a monthly fee (likely tied to a multi-year contract) versus a capital purchase, it’s still an investment. Choose wisely.

    • Catharine Brar says:

      Well said Bob. Cloud is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution as most vendors would have you to believe. It’s also not as simple to migrate workloads to the cloud. The same rigor should be used when choosing a cloud-based solution as choosing an on premise solution.

  8. steve says:

    and just how much money were you paid by these cloud computing giants to say all this hogwas about saftey and productivity?? its not safe, it never was safe, and never will be safe, because it means storing your personal information(and your client’s personal(private) information online where hackes live and breathe hacking company information.

    • dave says:

      ? the data lives behind more robust firewalls, ids, ips, etc than most businesses will employ, and current encryption standards are *nearly* impossible to break, and will be for a very, very long time. I fail to see the difference. your office, if it is connected to the Internet is also “in the cloud”

    • Mo says:

      Hackers attack on premise servers. Fact is that cloud ultimately finds its way to an on premise device. Ask yourself if your on premise security is equal to that of the cloud vendor who’s reputation is build upon securing their customer’s data.

      Security is a diminishing issue. Of more importance is the commercial value and being sure hat your contracts are understood.

    • jeff says:

      Very well said. We should also mention that these companies, in there rush to make a buck, forget a ton of simple security concerns leaving you vulnerable. Todays model is quantity and not quality.

    • KidWunder says:

      Cloud-computing giants? Please mention them? Oracle? Still largely on-prem, with some cloud options? Microsoft? See above but add “hosted”. Sure, there are large cloud companies like Salesforce but don’t go thinking that cloud companies are conspiring to implement a new world order. There’s a reason why so many startups are cloud-based. It is the way the world is generally moving.

  9. John says:

    Asside from the bandwidth consumption, cloud storage introduces counterparty risk that is difficult or impossible to mitigate. What happens to your sensitive data when a cloud provider goes under? Want to delete some data? How do you know it is gone? How many copies of your data are out there floating around? Have some legal issues? Who’s lawyers get to decide whether and how much data they are going to hand over? Who is going to be on the hook when a data leak occurs? The list goes on…

    Cloud storage might be OK for my mp3 collection, but I wouldn’t put anything that I really cared about out there.

  10. Dan says:

    It’s costly. I disagree that it removes IT administration and/or management from a company’s structure. It takes coordination, knowledge, and a clear understanding of technologies to move to, integrate with, and make quality decisions regarding this over used term”the cloud”.
    It also calls into question: who really owns that data? The easy answer is, of course, the tenant, yet do we really have legal precedence for this claim?

  11. KnowBetter says:

    There are so many false statements in this article you have to wonder if it was written by a sales rep fro a cloud computing company.

    The biggest of all is in security and costs. Your data is at risk to governments, competitors and hackers alike. the cost is way higher than traditional server space.

    Cloud computing can be a useful thing, but it’s not most situations.

  12. Biggest misconception ever is that cloud computing has to be off premises; it doesn’t – see Nova or Openstack and run your own Rackspace / AWS compatible open source cloud.

  13. Ascomp says:

    Whatever its misconception, cloud computing isnt going anywhere. The only real issue I find with the concept is keeping it safe. Cybercrime is the major issue that’s posing a threat and that’s no misconception…

  14. Sidd says:

    Well mentioned details by the author. Adopting a cloud approach that saves capital expense and helps build viable business models with reliable cloud and cloud solution providers seems to be a good idea!

  15. Vikram Niranjan says:

    Very useful article on Cloud Computing it is the future there is no doubts about it.

  16. Joni Mitchel says:

    Cloud = Work for lawyers and IT

  17. Nitin says:

    I think these are concept rather then misconception. There can be more and more unsecure to keep data as it goes online. Internet connection and costing is a problem too. I think it will be useful with no internet. And what im saying is just a new concept cloud computing without conventional internet.

  18. jeff says:

    Ok people, let’s be real. Cloud infrastructure is nothing more than a colo. Always has been and always will be. It is just a more popular and cool way to get people interested in it when in actuality it is just servers, hosting applications and data, on someone else’s data center. Additionally, cloud is always more expensive than doing it yourself and much slower than having it local.
    I could go on and on but why? This is a social society driven by cool and hip and not practical factual.

  19. Laurent says:

    I dont agree with all points. Cloud Security depends on service provider. If some are serious, some others are clowns. They do not properly separate data, badly manage access control, etc.
    About net down, you must realize small companies cant offer network redundancy with different physical nodes (else the same shared node will impact all links)
    And I say nothing about data confidentiality in US for example, where Patriot Act permits to access all data and steal it for “business intelligence”
    Cloud has a peomosing future but is still far from being mature, except if deployed in your own company under your total and exclusive control…

  20. Andrewbarnett says:

    A couple of key downsides;
    Who really owns your data on the cloud; possession in still 9/10th of the law.
    In these troubled times keeping hold of your businesses key asset, it’s data could actually be out of your hands.
    A recent incident of a data centre going into administration left its customers with data access issues for some days, this time could have had caused financials issues as well as IPR issues.

  21. Brandon says:

    This article pointed out a lot of what I hear all the time. But it perpetuated one of the bigger myths ” but as it removes the requirement for IT management in the long term cloud computing will save your business money.”

    The cloud reduces costs but to get the maximum benefit you don’t remove IT you replace the server/hardware guys with developers. That way you have the ability to customize your integrations and leverage the wide range of API’s offered through the cloud. You don’t get rid of your IT you just trade them out for IT with a different skill set.

  22. Brandon says:

    I didn’t read the other comments before posting my own. A lot of tin foil hats in here! Or premise based IT workers. Either way your security and data concerns are highly exaggerated.

  23. Jeremy says:

    A really informative article. Regarding comments about security small to medium businesses storing data locally will have inferior protection compared to data in the cloud using a tier 1 provider. Small to medium organisations don’t have state of the art firewall protection, unlike larger corporations. The fear and negative comments abouts cloud computing are in general made by IT Managers and the like who are concerned that they won’t have a job if their employer moves towards accessing applications via the cloud!

    • Jimmy says:

      That is a challenging statement Jeremy, with me being on both sides of the IT fence. I am a technical manager where I work currently, which means I not only have to set the pace for IT, set the rules for IT, but also do the work. The most secure networks are those that aren’t attacked. Much of the attacks from hackers on small businesses are generally attacks on their hosted infrastructure. Sure, I get some random attacks on my in-house FTP server, but I can assure you that our networks are not targets like they are in a cloud infrastructure. “Inferior Protection” is relative. I don’t have to deal with millions of connections therefore I don’t need all the overhead to support it. I would argue that the cloud provider has inferior protection to my infrastructure. There, you may have a team of 30 or so people handling up to a billion connections. That is 1 person for every 33.33million connections. For my small business, we have 1 person for every 10,000 connections. So, really, who is more secure?

  24. Jimmy says:

    OK article, definitely a marketing writeup however. I’d like to address the security front in this comment. People are claiming that these behemoths have better firewall, IDS, IPS, etc. While this is true at the hardware level, it isn’t the full story. A typical small business may have a server or two forward facing to the internet. Inject a simple firewall device in between the router/modem and the network and there you have a very basic SMB setup. Sure, there may be a DMZ, some other content scanning devices, and may be a little more complex, but the idea is the same. A small footprint=a small target (generally). Now, I know my ISP will work with me in cases of a distributed attack, that is part of our (and likely your) service agreement. As a small business, I can sleep at night knowing that I have a single point of entry into my systems (as opposed to the thousands of points of entry in a cloud providers infrastructure). I can be made aware very quickly that we are under attack at which point I triage the situation and then get my ISP involved if it is outside my ability to handle it. I like to keep my SLA file as thin as possible. And I am getting really frustrated that people keep saying that if it is on the internet, it is in the cloud…now that is the biggest bunch of crud out there. There are 3 prevailing technologies for the cloud. SaaS (software as a service), which is arguably the first cloud tech to come to pass, and even that is stretching it. SaaS has been around for decades. Then there is IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) which is probably the closest to what people think of as clouds. This became prominent as virtualization technology matured and arguably the youngest of the 3. And finally, PaaS (Platform as a Service), which has also been around for many, many years. The term ‘cloud’ is broad and only a marketing tool. It is not for everybody, however I am sure everybody could benefit one way or another. Overall, the services provided are generally less expensive than native ownership, but those comparisons are a 1 to 1. It doesn’t take into account many other considerations that don’t classically have a monetary value, such as trust or the real value of SLAs.

  25. Ravindranathan says:

    Very informative article. But I still doubt on the privacy of the confidential data. Even if the SLAs are in place, funnelling of our invaluable/private data is not ruled out. You know where all our e-mail ids and mobile nos are floating around. There should be a very robust mechanism/process for securing the data. That may be the reason Google, Apple like companies are delaying their cloud initiative. Even if they go for I am sure it will be with their own tools/parties.

  26. Mike says:

    Unfortunately, this is the exact kind of article that perpetuates wrong thinking. It is thin, lacks weight and makes sweeping assertions without foundation or proof.

  27. Bill Nicholls says:

    I’ve been in IT for >50 years. The cloud has potential utility for a lot of things, but its security and reliability are best served in most cases by being an internal cloud where those issues are managed by the ownership, and their location for critical information is *inside* the organization’s direct control.

    Lower priority and derived information may, at owners choice, reside in the outside cloud. Keep in mind that physical security is one of the requirements – if you go outside, look hard at the physical and operational security of your vendor.

    The concept is great, the reality is another set of hard choices and risks. Do your homework.

  28. Anonymous Coward says:

    Cloud is many things. Aside from the management of boxes, IaaS doesn’t save you much, except for providing a large variety of preinstalled boxes in an instant. It’s a whole different story, however, if we talk about PaaS or SaaS. It’s a huge effort saver to just allocate four more cores and three more gigs of RAM with a click to your app without restarting it, instead of announcing scheduled downtime, provisioning a new machine, and moving the app. Similarly, it’s significantly easier to just create a new account for an application online, instead of installing the application yourself. And as a small company, it’s a nobrainer that the application provider is in a better position than you are to hire the right people and secure the infrastructure and the application. Therefore, IMO the people negating the advantages of the cloud are simply in denial.

    • Andrew A says:

      I agree there are many benefits, plenty to show it has value but as yet I havent heard the word outsourcing. Cloud is just an outsourcing strategy. The question is…..”when do companies stop outsourcing”. You can have a virtual secretary, virtual mail, virtual project teams, servers, apps, meetings…..what shouldnt be virtual.
      It seems to me that we lose a differentiation in the cloud/outsourcing model. While cloud is new we can differentiate by using it and promoting it….but what happens when everyone is using the cloud….what make one company different from the other. I think we will revert to our own systems again. eg American Airlines and Virgin both lost millions when their “cloud” bookings system failed. When cant you afford to outsource?

  29. Pete says:

    Unfortunately, this article is looking at things through Rose Colored Glasses

    RE: 7. If the net goes down, the cloud becomes useless
    While in REALITY this is definitely TRUE.

    Would you trust your money to a stranger to keep it safe for you? Not likely. But, what if the stranger was honest had a clean background and was financially stable? Maybe? Hopefully, I’ve made some sort of a point regarding exposure. In addition to the benefits management MUST look at the downside too. What is my ROI and what are the liabilities.

    Entrust your company records and operation to a “cloud” company and regardless of the reason if their physical presence is destroyed disappears, or they file bankruptcy. Where does that leave your business?

    If you want your business to be in a position to continue to operate per your requirements then you will need to incorporate your business continuance and disaster recovery in your day-to-day operation. That includes hiring of a new employee, purchasing a laptop, signing a contract, etc. Don’t allow anyone to try and intimidate you with “the high cost” or “money you’ll save” ploys. You need to have complete control and responsibility for all things concerning your business. Business Continuance and Disaster Recovery preparedness are paramount.

    http://www.gotech.com /BCDRexpert

  30. Enough of the Chicken Little “the sky is falling!” rhetoric please … cloud service can and do work, and can be cost effective, innovative and safe. I’ve written many reports on cloud services adoption over the past few years and documented case studies of early adopter experiences with SaaS and IaaS in government agencies. Cloud services ARE real.
    The rule of thumb is that mature enterprise-grade cloud services implemented in a professional manner can definitely be better (i.e more functional), faster (i.e. to implement), less costly and less risky (overall) than more traditional customised, on-premise hosted, applications. The thing to realise is that it all depends on the resourcing and skills of the status quo. Of course the best scenario is that the organisation has lots of money to spend on ICT and has a world-class skilled ICT department doing great work and a best-of-breed data centre etc. Sweet! Sadly, however, the reality is that most organisations have funding and skills constraints as well as ageing and under-invested ICT infrastructure … so the satus quo is not necessarily good, safe or sustainable. In this context, cloud services can genuinely provide a new and viable alternative.
    The main reason is that cloud services are simply shared services that work … I often use the phrase “cloudy is as cloudy does”. The services already exist and can be assessed prior to making a commitment. “Kick the tyres … if you like it, configure it to meet your needs and drive it away”. This is a fresh change for most executives compared to the “pay up-front and hope for the best” approach that typifies most ICT projects … and too often yields disappointing results with cost and time over-runs. The truth is that cloud services can be safe and effective if you use the right services for the right projects and go about it the right way … the same as any other approach to sourcing ICT capabilities.
    The seven things to remember to manage the risks in cloud services are: (1) Contract, (2) SLA, (3) Data categorisation, (4) Pre-nuptial agreement for data – where is it/how do you get it back?, (5) Tested Plan B – what do you do if the cloud services goes down, (6) Information management/governance – what data can be stored where and what authorisation, (7) Data security – access controls and encryption. These same 7 things need to be managed for any externally managed or hosted solution … so cloud services is just a variant of outsourcing … except that cloud services are genuine shared services that deliver the benefits of massive economies of scale to each and every customer. Seeing is believing.
    Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself before you decide that it won’t/can’t work in your organisation – it is quick, inexpensive and effective to trial a cloud service and implement a prrof-of-concept project.
    The trouble is that too much of the anti-cloud services noise is simply threatened in-house ICT folks seeking to defend their vested interests in the status quo. The better approach is to work out where cloud services can add value in your organisation so that you can focus your effort on delivering real business innovation … rather than constantly reinventing the wheel in sub-scale, low value, technology activities that just constrain business flexibility.

    • Robin says:

      Hi Steve, thank you for the insightful post. I agree, cloud services can add value to a business, but undertaking a needs assessment and planning is important. The result of a thorough assessment and planning is the right cloud solution with the right cloud provider and mitigated risk

  31. Neil Bolton says:

    What are we talking about here?

    We have a few descriptions already included. Let’s try to define it more accurately. How about this one, probably my favourite contemporary definition:

    Cloud computing is a technology set that delivers a broad range of IT services over the internet. Instead of having to purchase, install and manage your own IT infrastructure locally, these services are provided over the internet. This is very different from a traditional on-premise IT model and represents a paradigm shift in the way IT services are consumed and managed. These IT services can range from email and simple web-based applications, to completely hosted private cloud data centres.

    Cloud computing utilises remote servers housed in secure data centres. By not locating servers on-premise, businesses can leverage cloud computing to obtain equivalent services via the internet from cloud hosting providers.”

    This definition is a long way from most “Hey, mine’s a browser app, so I’m in the Cloud!” and a lot closer to the “official” definition from the (US) National Institute of Standards and Technology: The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing (readily available on the Internet.)

    A very good place NOT to start is Wikipedia’s entry – if there was ever a good example of a document written by a committee, this is it. The very first paragraph is utterly illogical – as an example the last sentence is the reverse of what most people are experiencing:

    “The popularity of the term Cloud computing can be attributed to its use in marketing to sell hosted services in the sense of Application Service Provisioning that run Client server software on a remote location.”

    What?

    If we use the NIST definition most “cloud computing” falls at the first hurdle, and performs worse from that point:

    Essential Characteristics:
    On-demand self-service. A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.”

    This very first point has NOTHING to do with most vendors’ purported “Cloud” solutions.

    Summary: “Cloud Computing” at the moment means whatever the vendor of software or services wants it to mean.

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