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The Cloud by its very nature is susceptible to hype and misconceptions. From a consumer perspective, “in the Cloud” is a mystical place where most of the technical details are hidden. It is the subject of numerous books, articles, blogs and Hollywood movies. So it is not surprising that some misunderstandings have arisen. With no shortage of myths about the Cloud, research firm Gartner has compiled a list of the top 10 most misleading ones, with the CIO in mind, which I have summarized below and added in our own thoughts;
The myth that a cloud solution will always save your organization money is quiet prevalent. Yes, sometimes this is the case – but there are many other reasons for migrating to the Cloud, the most common is agility. Current trends show that infrastructure as a service (IaaS) prices are coming down, but software as a service (SasS) for example is not changing in price. So do the research ahead of time – on solution options and pricing. With a product like Microsoft Dynamics that is offered on-premise as well as the Cloud, you have the option to switch from one deployment method to another at any time as prices change or your organizations needs change.
Because there is so much hype around the Cloud being the way to go, the resulting myth is that something is good if it is cloud and something is not good if it isn’t. Avoid misplaced expectations, cloud solutions can have addition functionality not offered in on-premise solutions, but the opposite can also be true. There can be features available in on-premise solutions that aren’t available through cloud solutions. Do the research on capabilities and decide which solution features you were most looking for.
Related to myth 2, the Cloud is not appropriate for everything. It often depends on the system, on the users, what sector your organization is in, etc. Don’t assume the Cloud will benefit every organization and all of its users. This is not always the case and should be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Oftentimes organizations don’t have a clear cloud strategy in place and the default is that “it’s what the CEO wants”. Begin by identifying your business goals and then determine the advantages and drawbacks of the Cloud. This will help shape your cloud strategy and will give everyone a much clearer direction and understanding than “because the CEO said so”.
Cloud services are broad and yes, the desire to simplify with one vendor or one system is natural. However, significant compromises often need to be made. With today’s expectations for interoperability, you can often simplify your cloud services much more today than you could have in the past. However, following your cloud strategy and business goals is important to ensure your organization is not compromising on crucial features and capabilities just for simplicity sake.
Data security and the Cloud has always been a major topic of discussion. However, cloud providers invest significant amounts into security technology and personnel as they understand their business would be at risk if they didn’t. Don’t make the assumption that cloud providers are non-secure or that they are. To date, there have been very few security breaches in the public Cloud — most breaches continue to involve on-premises data center environments. Identify where the security responsibility lies – this will determine what your cloud provider is responsible to protect versus what your organization is responsible to protect.
Cloud computing within an organization is often done in steps. Which means organizations should start with non-mission critical systems and slowly transition more important system to the Cloud. Mission critical means different things to different organizations. When starting to transition to the Cloud, transition in phases. Mission critical systems for your organization can certainly be hosted in the Cloud, but working out any kinks in cloud hosting should be done with less important systems. Hybrid solutions are also a good option here as well.
Your data center strategy should not be your cloud strategy, but they also can’t be created in isolation – they both must consider each other. In most cases, data center outsourcing, modernization and strategies are not synonymous with the Cloud. Make your decisions about the Cloud on a case-by-case basis, not as an all or nothing approach. Data centers and the Cloud are related, but not the same thing – look for linking these two strategies.
Cloud computing has unique characteristics. Some clouds use service based internet technologies, others are “lift and shift” rehosting and other still can be “hosted in the Cloud” (which is not the same thing as a cloud service), and there’s also refactoring and rewriting. Don’t assume that migrating to the Cloud will give you the same characteristics as a lower level (IaaS for example). Distinguish between applications hosted in the Cloud versus cloud services.
Virtualization is a technique commonly used for cloud computing, although it is not necessary and is not sufficient either. Even good virtualization is not cloud computing. Sometimes exactly what an organization needs is virtualization – but this is often described as “private cloud” and this is not the case. Use the right term, remember from myth #2 you don’t have to be cloud to be good. Calling something by the wrong name can mislead expectations and cause event further confusion around the Cloud.
Read the full Gartner report (subscription required).