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6 Cloud Computing Misconceptions

EducationSummary: Despite its growth in the enterprise, cloud computing is still surrounded with misconceptions. These misconceptions can keep companies from the cloud, lead the wrong companies to the cloud, or trap businesses with a bad cloud vendor. Learn how to identify these misconceptions, and make more informed cloud decisions.

If you read enough articles about the cloud, you’ll find contradictions left and right. Some say it’s cheaper. Others say it’s more expensive. Some think it’s less secure. Others claim the opposite. No wonder some companies are still skeptical.

Today, let’s debunk some of these common cloud myths related to moving your business applications to a cloud host.

Now, I’m not here to sway you one way or the other. Do you want to move your applications to the cloud? Great. Do you want to keep them in-house? That’s fine. I’m just here to debunk some common misconceptions surrounding the cloud, and help you make a more informed decision.

Sound good? Okay, here are 6 of the most common cloud computing myths.

Myth #1: Applications will work as fast in the cloud as they did on the LAN

Many companies make the mistake of assuming application performance will remain the same, or improve on the cloud. In reality, the location of the cloud host, size of the application, and location of data in relation to your application all play critical roles in application performance.

photo credit: Nathan E Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: Nathan E Photography via photopin cc

“Modern LAN’s run at a speed of 1000 Mbps,” says Tim Singleton, President of Strive Technology Consulting. “A T1 line to the internet maxes out at 1.5 Mbps. A fast cable connection is 50 Mbps. So when moving an application to the cloud, remember that data transfer will be tens to hundreds of times slower than it was on the LAN. Many cloud apps are not affected by this because the amount of data transferred is quite small. But for certain areas, such as file sharing and storage, this can result in greatly decreased efficiency. Consider how much data you will be transferring and how fast your internet connection is before making this switch.”

While the point above mainly effects large, internal applications, the location of your data relative to your users also plays a critical role in application performance. For instance, suppose most of your customers are from California. Moving your applications to a cloud host in New York will hurt application performance. While it may be an unnoticeable decrease (depending on application size), it’s a factor you can’t ignore.

Myth #2: Placing all of my applications in the cloud eliminates the need for IT

The myth that moving applications to the cloud eliminates the need for IT is based on flawed logic: The assumption that IT does nothing more than manage applications. In this technology-driven world, your IT team must become a strategic part of the business. Moving applications to the cloud doesn’t eliminate the need for IT–it opens up opportunities for other strategic IT initiatives.

“Your organization must maintain ownership of the IT function, even if you are choosing to no longer house your data or your applications,” says Heinan Landa, CEO of Optimal Networks. “Although the cloud can do lots of things, it can’t think strategically. All organizations still need someone to think strategically about the direction of their business’s technology. And, as with any strategic operating shift in an organization, leadership must evaluate the benefits and risks-and ask the right questions before moving forward.”

Myth #3: Once you enter the cloud, there is no going back

photo credit: chefkeem via pixabay cc
photo credit: chefkeem via pixabay cc

Some companies avoid the cloud because they view it as an irreversible decision. In reality, that’s not the case at all. With flexible application architecture, your applications remain portable. You can switch from one cloud host to the next, or even move your applications back in-house.

“If you’re smart about your approach and design, moving out of the cloud when it becomes cost prohibitive is easy,” says William R. Speirs, CEO of Metrink. “The biggest pain point is a tight coupling between your application and how data is stored in the cloud. If you do not create a proper level of abstraction between your application and your data, then moving between clouds (or your own infrastructure) can be a nightmare.”

As an example, we moved some of our applications to a cloud host a while back, and later decided that a different host better suited our needs. Our applications ported easily–only requiring a few hours to get everything set up and moved over. Of course, application architecture played a large role. Without the right architecture, we may have had a far different experience.

Myth #4: Cloud computing prevents vendor lock-in

Taking the previous point one step further, the cloud vendor also plays an enormous role in flexibility. While moving to and from cloud vendors can be simple, not every vendor makes it that way. Do your homework before selecting a cloud host. Many companies realize too late that they’re locked in to their cloud provider.

photo credit: archer10 (Dennis) via photopin cc
photo credit: archer10 (Dennis) via photopin cc

“Many newcomers to the cloud believe that it is a silver bullet to hosting lock-in and vendor lock-in in general,” says Christian Ferrer, Developer at DMG Bluegill. “This couldn’t be further from the truth. In the cloud, vendor lock-in is a fact of life. Anything you integrate that is provided “as-a-Service” creates a new dependency in your system. If you should find that you need to change that dependency, and there is a prohibitively high cost to migrating away from it, that is when vendor lock-in occurs. Currently, there are few industry standards in place to address migration. This will get better as technology offerings and the market evolve. Currently, however, the best things you can do are to be aware, ask lots of questions, and have an exit strategy.”

How can you avoid vendor lock-in? Here’s a nice article that outlines 5 questions to ask prospective cloud vendors before you make the move. Here’s another article that lists 8 questions to ask before developing applications in the cloud–many of which will help you avoid cloud vendor lock-in.

Myth #5: The Cloud is all-or-nothing

Some companies shy away from the cloud because it’s viewed as an all-or-nothing move. In reality, you can move as many or as few applications as you’d like. For instance, we’ve moved certain applications over to a cloud host, but choose to keep others in-house. If you’re considering a move to the cloud, I recommend you start small. Test it with a few applications, and move more as needed.

“Just as lemmings became extinct by all jumping in head first, most enterprises require time to analyze and adjust to new technologies before committing serious time and effort,” says Patrick Kerpan, CEO and Co-Founder of CohesiveFT. “Employees, customers, and shareholders would not be happy if companies jumped into new technologies without first proving value. With proven solutions in the market, enterprises can skip ahead to deploy directly to any cloud environment, develop, test, then release to speed the time to market.”

Myth #6: Cloud Computing is not secure

While security concerns remain one of the top barriers to cloud adoption, the topic of cloud security is a tricky one. The cloud host can secure their infrastructure, but application security is up to you. For instance, if you put insecure web applications on a secure platform–you still have insecure web applications. The question then becomes: Can you create a more secure infrastructure than a cloud host?

“The issue that firms of all sizes have with any new technology, including the cloud, revolves around data privacy and security risks,” says Tom Haadsma, Senior Account Manager at i3 Business Solutions. “You may think that cloud vendors are better, faster and cheaper at delivering IT services, but the status quo’s biggest argument against the cloud is that somehow, their data is too important or sensitive to entrust to a cloud vendor. But this thinking is backwards. If you care about the reliability, security, and the protection of your data, then you should entrust it to those who are most capable of managing it. Cloud services vendors like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are more secure because they *have* to be. Their services need to be able to scale as large or small as needed, and they must ensure compliance security and access requirements (like HIPAA, ISO 27001, HITECH and more). And they have huge, dedicated security operations teams, with individuals with security expertise that ranks them as some of the best in the world.

Trusted collaboration with cloud vendors is often the best way to ensure that the right security measures are taken.”

So, what do you think? Is there anything you would add to this list? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments.