Are you confident that cloud computing really offers all the benefits proponents rave about?
Or, has hearing all the naysayers criticize cloud computing left you doubting it’s potential value to your business?
Either way, you’re not alone.
A May 2015 survey from West Unified Communication Services found that 300 IT managers are completely divided on the issue of cloud computing and unified communications.
55% of respondents said they don’t believe their cloud communication providers offer sufficient security checks. 46% said the return on investment wouldn’t be enough to justify a transfer to a cloud-based infrastructure.
But are these IT managers correct? Is there no justifiable ROI?
And what about the other half of respondents – those who believe the cloud does offer justifiable benefits? Are their heads just “stuck in the clouds?” (pun intended)
We want to clear up some of the fundamental misconceptions about cloud computing – and while we’re certainly proponents here at Solid State Systems, we aim to take a balanced stance on the benefits and drawbacks of the cloud as the value of the cloud varies from business to business.
So we’re going to look at 3 pessimistic and 3 optimistic misconceptions about cloud computing.
By the end, you’ll hopefully have a balanced view of this subject and be better able to make an informed decision about whether cloud computing is right for your organization.
3 Optimistic Misconceptions About Cloud Computing
Some people are a little too gung-ho about the potential benefits the cloud offers SMB’s and enterprises – so here are 3 optimistic misconceptions about cloud computing that you should be skeptical of.
There’s Little Chance of Anything Going Wrong When Transitioning to Cloud Computing
Transitioning your network from an in-house infrastructure to the cloud does benefit most businesses, but not all.
But if you’ve been using legacy systems for a long time and the hybrid cloud model won’t work for your organization, you would have to replace your existing IT systems. This may turn out to be a net benefit down the road but could be costly upfront.
And if you do go with the hybrid model but your new infrastructure isn’t configured correctly, you could experience serious performance overhead that could cost your business time and money.
Cloud Providers Are All the Same
The current reality of the still growing cloud computing industry is that not all cloud providers offer the same service due to a lack of standardization.
Cloud computing is a multi-faceted industry that provides different levels of services and security from vendor to vendor.
For example, some cloud providers store encryption keys within the software itself, a risky practice that can compromise your data security.
Before engaging any cloud provider, you should ask a lot of cloud security questions regarding their services to ensure they can properly protect your data and ensure you remain compliant with any industry regulations.
We recommend a cloud provider who offers multi-factor authentication systems that create a tightly secured environment for your data.
Cloud security has proven itself to be highly effective, but each cloud provider should be individually evaluated for quality and competency.
Cloud Providers are Completely Responsible for Data Security
Another common misconception about cloud computing is that once you hand over your information to a cloud provider, they’re totally responsible for the security of all your data and there’s nothing more to do on your end.
Since most organizations choose a hybrid approach to cloud computing, your company will most likely be at least partly responsible for safeguarding data that may eventually be stored in or transferred to and from the cloud.
End users, in this case your organization, are usually the most vulnerable target for a hacker attack or malware infection. You can’t simply rely on your cloud provider to protect you entirely.
If one of your devices is stolen, or someone in your business falls prey to a phishing scam, it doesn’t matter where your data is stored.
The bottom line is that storing your data in a secure 3rd party data center can enhance its hardware and software security. But, as long as you’re interacting with that data, you’re vulnerable to attack no matter where it’s kept.
So your company should get into the habit of using network security best practices whether you use some form of cloud computing or not, and everyone in your organization should be practicing common sense internet security guidelines.
3 Pessimistic Misconceptions About Cloud Computing
Now that we’ve looked at some of the ideas cloud enthusiasts are a little too optimistic about, let’s look at 3 pessimistic misconceptions about cloud computing – downsides that aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be.
Cloud Computing Requires a Completely New Infrastructure
Many businesses falsely assume that you have to take an “all-or-nothing” approach to cloud computing; either your IT infrastructure is entirely in the cloud or entirely in-house.
Actually, the best cloud computing solutions usually operate through a “hybrid” approach of in-house systems working in conjunction with cloud systems.
This allows you to reap the benefits of both worlds without needing to overcommit one way or the other.
The hybrid model allows more flexibility in terms of transitioning processes and data into and out of the cloud according to the budget, computing, and storage needs of your business.
Now, you have absolute control over how you use your cloud provider, what data gets stored where, and what information and applications you want to use offline versus online.
In-House Infrastructure is Safer than the Cloud
Most people believe that information stored in the cloud can be hacked more easily than in-house legacy systems.
It is true that without proper security measures the cloud can be a dangerous place, but this is true of any network or storage system.
More and more, SMB’s and enterprises alike are moving their infrastructure to secure 3rd party data centers – compelling evidence that cloud computing can be both safe and smart for your business.
The big difference between your in-house systems and the cloud is that security is a major component of any professional cloud services provider; they simply won’t be able to compete without competently addressing those challenges.
And outsourcing some of your security needs to a trustworthy provider can allow you to reduce IT overhead and increase security as well.
Cloud Computing is Expensive
Cloud computing actually requires little initial capital outlay – a well-designed cloud solution will leverage your existing IT assets while only adding new components if they fit within your budget.
And, because most cloud providers offer tiered service levels, your ongoing costs can be matched to your financial needs now and scale only as your business grows.
In-house legacy systems, on the other hand, require ongoing hardware and software maintenance, occasional upgrades and replacements, space and utilities to house and power them, as well as dedicated on-site IT personnel.
Continually optimized cloud software and services are usually designed to be easy to learn and operate, which means less time and money spent training, lower need for IT staff, and higher productivity.
Furthermore, management of cloud hardware is handled by the cloud provider, which frees up time and money for your IT department – allowing you to lower costs and/or more effectively spend IT budgets to increase ROI
Hopefully by now we’ve cleared up at least a few of the fundamental misconceptions about cloud computing you’ve been struggling with.
Cloud computing is not without its pitfalls and drawbacks, but with the right provider and infrastructure, there are definitely some big benefits as well – all of which should be considered before integrating your organization’s IT with a cloud service provider.
If you’re still left wondering whether cloud computing is right for you, then perhaps it’s time to talk with a trustworthy cloud provider – one who can provide realistic expectations and help you maximize ROI whether cloud solutions are right for your business or not.
Want to Learn More About Whether Cloud Computing is Right for Your Business?
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Also published on Medium.