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What’s Real and What’s a Misconception About the Cloud?

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When it comes to business media predictions regarding the cloud, do phrases like “CapEx savings,” “elasticity” and “ability to compete against much larger companies” have a physical effect on your CEO? Do these words currently force your CEO to flag you down, demanding to know your company’s cloud strategy?

If so, your CEO is not alone. And if you are still cautious about the cloud, you’re not alone, either.

It’s true.  Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have foretold the riches to be gained by switching to the cloud, especially for mid-sized companies, in the coming year.

But these publications are not in IT. You are. And your job is on the line if you move your company’s applications and data to a cloud environment, and the results turn out be a different than what was predicted. So while the uptime, resources and elasticity of the cloud sound enticing, you’d prefer to address your concerns before you make a move.

Vulnerability to hackers

You’re worried about hacking.  It’s a legitimate concern. No one is exempt from hackers anymore. But Gartner debunked the claim that the cloud is less secure than an on-premises data center as a misconception.

“Cloud computing is perceived as less secure. This is more of a trust issue than based on any reasonable analysis of actual security capabilities. To date, there have been very few security breaches in the public cloud — most breaches continue to involve on-premises data center environments. The majority of cloud providers invests significantly in security technology and personnel and realizes that their business would be at risk without doing so. However, assuming they are secure is not advised.”

“There is also an opposing view that cloud platforms are actually more secure than on-premises platforms. This may, in fact, be true for many small or midsize businesses, some of which cannot make the necessary security investments, and even for some large enterprises that recognize that their security efforts may be lacking.” (1)

While security at cloud vendors varies widely, the good ones typically employ the latest security technologies and processes, enabling them to offer an environment that is safer than what your organization could create.  Among the attributes to seek out:

  • Monitoring by onsite staff 24/7/365
  • The availability and uptime of a Tier II or higher data center
  • The ability to meet compliance requirements regarding safety and security along with many industry standards

In terms of a cloud services provider, Gartner recommends the following: “Don’t assume that cloud providers are not secure, but also don’t assume they are. Cloud providers should have to demonstrate their capabilities, but once they have done so there is no reason to believe their offerings cannot be secure. There are enterprises whose security capabilities are formidable, but so are the capabilities of most cloud providers. However, the security levels of cloud providers will vary. Assess your actual capabilities and your potential provider’s capabilities and hold both to reasonable standards. Assuming on-premises capabilities are more secure can lead to a false sense of security.” (2)

Loss of control of your environment

You’re worried a cloud services provider will start moving things around or changing things without your consent or knowledge. Reality? An ideal cloud provider enables and expands your control of the environment: you have control over your internal servers and if you opt for a hybrid cloud, you’re now also the broker of what is available in it.

Loss of IT value to the company

You’re privately concerned if you go to the cloud, you’re done and out of a job. That’s a scary thought. Virtualization created the same concern, but the truth was it created more IT jobs, not less.  The same is turning out to be true regarding cloud implementation. In 2013, Deloitte consulted with three organizations: Enterasys Networks, Aricent Group and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). They published their results in the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal four years later, stating that despite the vast IT departments at all three organizations, only two employees had been let go — arguably a lower rate than natural attrition.(3)

A good cloud services provider enables you to do what you likely got into IT to do: exercise your knowledge, creativity, and abilities. You can finally build the applications you always wanted to build, tweak, and customize existing applications, make everything inside your company run the way only you knew it could run, because you have:

  • Uptime. Going to the cloud offers unprecedented uptime.
  • Growth and Elasticity. The cloud offers you agility. You’re not slowed down by weeks or months launching a new initiative because you had to physically make hardware purchases, install new servers and train. With the cloud, you make a call when you get the green light and say “I need more virtual machines stood up.” It’s fairly inexpensive and done quickly, all with a technical assistance center that can help.
  • Cost Savings. You’ve known all along that by going to the cloud, CapEx savings will be mitigated by new subscription model costs. The reality is while many see hard cost savings with the cloud, the real value is in soft cost savings such as efficiencies and new capabilities.  The biggest savings your company will likely make is getting YOU back as a resource. You will be able to help your company become quicker to market with new products and services. With that, your company grows, and your stature within the company grows with it. You’ll be doing what you’ve always envisioned, rather than spending the majority of your time fixing what is broken.
  • Peace of Mind. Finally, there’s the peace of mind that comes with going to the cloud: the servers are up, in a secure environment, and those who want to work overtime can.

Going to the cloud can not only enrich your company’s business strategies, it can help you lead the career you’ve always envisioned there.  In the same Wall Street Journal article cited earlier, the IT spokesman for Enterasys Networks reported that cloud adoption had allowed its IT department, previously bogged down 60 percent the time on operations, to enjoy as much as 60 to 70 percent of its time on new application development. (4)The other two organizations studied reported similar results.  Just think what the cloud could do for you.

 (1)(2) Gartner Inc., “The Top 10 Cloud Myths,” David Mitchell Smith, October 1, 2014
(3)(4) Wall Street Journal “How Cloud Computing is Changing IT Organizations” Deloitte CIO Journal Editor April 29, 2013

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About Peak 10

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Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest