5 cloud myths debunked
Mon 9 Dec 2019 | Sharad Acharya
For those new to cloud, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction
Cloud is impossible to ignore. Every year, more and more businesses move operations to cloud-based services in the hunt for better flexibility and advanced IT operations. Public cloud revenue is forecasted to grow 17.5 percent in 2019, according to a report by Gartner, and there’s no indication this trend will decline.
With the various options presented in front of them in terms of cloud service providers, cloud platforms, or cloud types (public, private, hybrid), it is sometimes confusing for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to build the right cloud model for their businesses.
In order to tap into cloud’s potential, it is imperative for any business to understand the elements of cloud technology and the benefits that it brings to the table.
But it is equally important that businesses don’t fall for the myths that persistently surround cloud. Here are four common myths that every organisation should be aware of.
Ask the cloud enthusiasts, and they will tell you that it is a good idea to move your entire business process to the cloud. Although they are not entirely wrong, for most businesses, this strategy is too far-reaching.
Migrating to the cloud depends on numerous factors and should involve proper evaluation of your existing IT infrastructure and the business at large. Organisations need to forecast company growth and the subsequent expansion of the IT infra setup. Budget considerations are also a vital part of moving business data to the cloud. If the business finds that some applications and data are non-critical and can be hosted on the existing IT setup, you can decide against migrating them.
The idea of migrating to the cloud should not be based solely on its benefits, but whether you need those benefits for the specific process or not. For instance, data security and team collaboration could be a requirement for the sales department but not the HR department. Hence, you host the sales process on the cloud but keep the HR process on the local setup. By evaluating business functions in this way, organisations can optimise IT budgets.
One vendor only
The cloud can be associated with a wide range of services. For instance, it can be used to store data, host applications, develop software solutions, and more. The cloud offers multiple platforms that support whatever the enterprise’s goals are, including Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS). There is also a wide range of options available to the customers in terms of cloud service providers.
Most businesses are of the view that while migrating business processes to the cloud, they have to choose a single platform or cloud service provider, which is not the case. The business processes can be hosted on multiple cloud platforms – a rising trend known as multi-cloud.
Deploying a multi-cloud strategy has various perks for organisations. Firstly, it offers flexibility, as not every cloud service provider has expertise in every business process. For instance, a cloud provider may have expertise in hosting accounting software like QuickBooks, while others would offer you a cost-effective PaaS platform for application development.
Secondly, a multi-cloud strategy prevents vendor lock-in as organisations do not have to rely on one cloud service provider. Hence, if you are not satisfied with a provider, it makes the transition to another provider smooth as the business functions are distributed.
Lastly, another aspect of a multi-cloud strategy is cost-optimisation. You can opt for a more secure (although pricier) cloud provider for processes like finance, which require more security. However, for the HR department, a less expensive SaaS-based platform can be considered.
The challenge with a multi-cloud strategy is that it needs the expertise of cloud professionals to build the right model for your business. Any mismatch in cloud services can lead to inefficiency in the business process, because every department has its own requirements in terms of server resources and features.
Also, as there are multiple cloud vendors, the hassles related to managing them and keeping tracking of their payments are more acute. Enlisting the help of a CIO (Chief Information Officer) to craft an effective cloud strategy is a great way to reap the benefits of multi-cloud.
Cloud is not secure
Since the inception of network-based computing such as cloud, there has been a notion that cloud is less secure than on-premises server setup. This myth emerged because with cloud computing the servers are located in remote data centres, where the users need to access the data through the Internet.
Business owners are usually of the opinion that keeping data close to them is preferable, so they can monitor it themselves. Also, it is assumed that the data could be lost or hacked during the transition from the cloud server to the end-point devices and vice-versa.
In addition, cloud delivers secure services with new security methods evolving all the time. The major cloud hosting providers offer advanced security measures such as multi-factor authentication, data encryption, data filtering, and Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems.
Cloud providers also offer hardware redundancy, which is not feasible for on-premise setups. With redundant hardware infrastructure, data is replicated on more than one server, guaranteeing its security in cases of hardware malfunctions or crashes.
However, it is the business’ responsibility to choose a cloud provider that can meet all of its security requirements. Considerations include the provision of security-specific parameters like DDoS protection, Access Control policy, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, and automated backup. Organisations should also make sure that a cloud provider hosts data in SSAE-16 certified Tier-4 data centres.
Cloud and virtualisation are the same
Most people talk about cloud and virtualisation in the same context. This is because, for the end-user, he/she is accessing a virtual machine/server and is oblivious to the underlying architecture.
However, cloud and virtualisation are different technologies. Virtualisation is a much older technology, believed to be developed by IBM in the late 1960s. Cloud technology was built around virtualisation, with the term “cloud computing” coined around 2006.
Virtualisation is a technology that creates virtual machines or servers on a single physical server; resources such as RAM and storage can be divided accordingly. Virtualisation is deployed to create a multi-tenant environment, which means that multiple users can share a physical server. Through virtualisation, Virtual Machines (VMs) are created on a physical server, each with its specifications, acting as an independent server.
Cloud is a much broader concept that enables users to access their applications and data on highly scalable remote servers through the Internet. It involves the method of virtualisation, among other elements.
The cloud environment is a cluster of servers connected together, where the traffic is distributed through load balancers (hardware and software), ensuring the high availability of the VMs. Apart from forming VMs through virtualisation, cloud facilitates their delivery from/to a remote Internet-connected device, made possible by redundant network equipment.
There are other hosting services, such as VPS hosting that offer virtual private servers. However, they are not necessarily using the cloud environment to do so. Hence, the users usually opt for these services thinking that it is the cloud. You should be clear about the difference between the two.