The untruth about the Cloud
In part 1 of this series, I walked through the Cloud's historic timeline from its earliest days to its most current existence and gave you the true definition of the Cloud to help dispel the myths of perception. In part 2, I went a few steps further by introducing you to the various types of Clouds available and describing the advantages and disadvantages for each offering.
In this article, it's time to address some of the misconceptions and follies endorsed by many anti-Cloud constituents because, when attempting to sell Cloud services to management, educated rebuttals might be required at times.
So, let's address the most common misconceptions and refine the truth behind them.
The cloud is a place
Microsoft unintentionally proliferated misleading information about the Cloud as a place with its cutsie "To the Cloud" commercial in 2010, and since then, the majority of the consumer public has had a hard time separating the Cloud from an actual, physical place "out there" somewhere.
As I discussed in part 1, while the Cloud does reside on hardware sitting in a datacenter, that's really only part of it. The ultimate definition of the Cloud is that it's a highly virtualized, hardware consolidated, optimized, cost efficient, automated, and fully managed datacenter. The Cloud is less about the hardware and software, and more about efficiency and automation. In part 2, I walked you through the various types of Clouds, proving that the same effectiveness can be brought in-house. So, literally, the Cloud can exist in many places as long as the precepts and policies are implemented and followed.
The cloud is not secure
This is a misnomer brought on by those who regularly say, "If you want something done right, you must do it yourself." And, really this is a trust and control issue.
In truth, the Cloud is just as secure, and in a lot of cases, more secure than the local datacenter or server room. Thanks to those vendors developing improved processes and taking pioneering gambles during the last few years, hardening of technology has leap-frogged what it was only a few years ago. Because the Cloud was not the killer technology on day one, vendors have been allowed to make mistakes and come back with better, more secure solutions. What we have today is probably one of the most secure instances of technology deployment ever envisioned.
There is a strong caveat here, though. Security is only going to be as solid as the vendor you select. If you are keeping with a Private Cloud, security is all on you, so make sure to research new advancements and techniques to ensure a secure environment. If you choose a Hybrid or Public Cloud solution, you will need to work with a Cloud provider. Choosing the right Cloud partner is important. Are they trustworthy? Do they meet or beat your security criteria? Do they follow the guidelines specific to your organization?
The cloud is data blackmail
Many organizations fear that once data sits on the Cloud that it is no longer owned by the organization, or might become co-owned because it resides on someone else's hardware. If disaster happens, the Cloud provider shuts its doors, or the servers are being used in a legal dispute or investigation, all that data could be forfeit.
In the majority of cases, this is not true. But, in reality, it depends on the specific Cloud provider you choose. That's why it's hugely important to make sure to intricately review Privacy statements and contracts for any Cloud provider. Don't be afraid to get a legal entity involved. Also, choose a Cloud provider you expect to be around for a while. Microsoft, Google, and Amazon aren't going anywhere, anytime soon. Placing your trust in smaller Cloud providers isn’t prudent and could result have disastrous results.
For governmental organizations, many of the larger Cloud vendors are creating government-specific Cloud datacenters. These government Clouds are developed to match regulations and policies to ensure success from day one. Guidance on approved vendors should be available at federal, state, and local levels.
The cloud will kill IT
One of the biggest misconceptions, and probably the largest blocker for Cloud solutions, is that moving to the Cloud will eliminate the need for IT services. This is simply not true. IT Pros are some of the most resilient, trustworthy, knowledgeable and adaptable employees in any organization. Sure, they may have their nerdy quirks, but their services will be required to make any Cloud implementation successful.
Yes, they will need new skills in the emerging Cloud world, but by investing in supplying for the new skillsets, they become a faithful partner in a Private, Hybrid, or even Public solution. They are constantly required to learn new products, adapt to new scenarios, and support newly introduced technology mandates. The personality of an IT person makes for an enduring profession. IT will be around for a long, long time.
There are many, many misconceptions about the Cloud, and none more important than those I covered in this article. By understanding what you might face when talking with management about attempting to improve the organization through Cloud services, you will immediately raise your level of success.
In part 4, I'll delve into the methods to follow and best practices for ensuring success in selling Cloud services to management and also talk more about how to quickly address the U.S. Government's mandate for Cloud Computing.
Rod Trent is the IT Community Manager for Windows IT Pro and myITforum.com, both sister brands of American City & County.