A New IT Infrastructure
Daily, IT personnel are under pressure to do more with less and maximize the return on investment throughout the entire IT infrastructure business process. I see this scenario continually and it puzzles me why business owners do not invest in the proper IT infrastructure to run their business. After all, if the IT infrastructure fails, so does the business, and I cannot recall visiting any business within the last 10 years that worked strictly with pen and paper.
Interestingly enough, this business mindset has pushed the innovation of cloud computing. No more hardware investment; no more software investment and licensing costs; and improved productivity throughout the whole organization, including the IT department – who wouldn’t want to jump on that bandwagon?
Well, believe it or not, there is tremendous pushback from business owners to adapt. Why? It’s mostly fear of the unknown and the concern about security issues. So let’s look at some of the largest myths darkening the cloud computing scene.
Myth 1: Data is not as secure in the cloud.
In truth, the risk of a security breach is the same as those faced by traditional infrastructure solutions for the most part. Most providers actually have higher security than most traditional networks because of the economies of scale of the cloud business. Cloud providers typically prioritize security as a core part of their business and service offerings and have made a significant investment securing the cloud network. A qualified provider should have multiple security measures in place, from dedicated intrusion prevention and security appliances to advanced encryption techniques to ensure the highest level of PCI, ISO, HIPAA, and ISAE security standards. Choosing cloud services would allow security to be a shared responsibility rather than having to protect your network alone.
Myth 2: It’s in the cloud so there’s no need for support.
Different cloud providers provide different levels of support based on your service-level agreement. Some IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service) providers offer fully managed services for a fee on top of the IAAS utility cost, and some SAAS (Software as a Service) companies only support the software they provide you. However, no matter what cloud technology you choose, you will need support with either the software that the cloud provider is providing or for the software you are injecting into the cloud network. Designing your ongoing support needs is important to ensure that the productivity of your employees is not hindered by cloud computing.
Myth 3: Once I select a cloud provider I can never move.
There is a possibility of this happening. However, if you choose a provider that utilizes industry standards, vender lock-in is something you should not worry about with IAAS. Virtual machine storage technology has five different standards and each standard has its own conversion software to convert to the competitor storage type. SAAS, on the other hand, will be up to the actual software provider. For example, QuickBooks Online export may not necessarily import into Microsoft Dynamics. So when choosing a SAAS provider, ensure that you have industry standard data export covered in your contract.
Myth 4: Every cloud provider offers the same services.
Not all clouds are created equal. Remember that there are three main types of cloud computing and each provider will have its own twist on their offerings. At the core, they are all the same type of service but the additional services they offer on top of the underlying core will set them apart.
Myth 5: Cloud computing is a fad.
If you believe this, you should think again. According to Gartner, server revenue was down 5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 while analysts are expecting Amazon Web Services will go from $2 billion in revenue to more than $24 billion by 2022. Cloud computing is approaching maturity and standards are being built around cloud computing daily. Within the next three to four years, I would expect to see constant innovation and refinement to ensure cloud computing meets the needs of every user including the home PC.
In the end, the idea of migrating to cloud computing really makes sense in two scenarios. The first is when your IT infrastructure has decayed to a point where you are thinking about upgrading, or if you are a new startup business. The cloud model will be around for a long time, however, you should carefully plan to ensure your business would benefit from the positive gain that cloud computing can bring.
Harry Ellis III MSDF, is chief information officer of Next Horizon with over 15 years of experience in the IT field and cloud computing.