If you’ve bought into the hype that’s surrounded cloud computing for the past few years, you’ll likely think it’s the answer to every IT director’s prayers.
Cloud platform vendors promise to lower costs with greater flexibility while service providers highlight improvements in workforce productivity and lower management overheads. While this might seem like cause to celebrate, it’s not necessarily the reality.
The fact that cloud services can deliver significant benefits to many organisations is not in question. However, it’s important to realise services are not a guaranteed, one-size-fits-all solution for every challenge you might be facing.
I recently attended the Gartner IODS event in Sydney and came away with a clear picture of how the cloud is being perceived by business and the reality of exactly what it’s delivering in terms of benefits. After speaking with a wide range of customers, vendors and analysts, I believe these are the five biggest myths associated with the cloud:
Myth 1 – The cloud is always cheaper
It’s the argument that’s been trotted out since cloud computing first appeared – it will always be cheaper to use a cloud platform than to continue to run an in-house data centre. While savings are certainly possible (and being enjoyed by many organisations), it’s not true in every case.
Cloud resources are great for meeting short-term requirements for extra storage or compute resources. Rather than investing in new hardware to cover a spike in demand, resources can be ‘rented’ as required.
Yet, while much is made of the ability this gives to dial-up or dial-down capacity as required, in reality it’s often different. Particularly when it comes to storage, required capacities often go up, but rarely down. The end result may be higher costs for cloud-based resources than for an equivalent in-house capability.
Myth 2 – Cloud migration is simple
Real-world experience indicates this is not the case. Sure, shifting data and simple applications to the cloud can be seamless, but moving more complex infrastructures can be time-intensive and costly. Much legacy software was never designed to run on a cloud platform, and so shifting it out of the corporate data centre can cause big headaches. Interaction with other applications that may not move also needs careful consideration.
Consideration also needs to be given to complexity and cost of exit or move to an alternate cloud.
Myth 3 – The cloud will shrink your IT department
Many think shifting to the cloud will allow a drop in IT department headcounts, but often the reverse is true. Rather than directly managing infrastructure, IT teams instead have to manage multiple cloud providers along with anything that has not relocated. This can cause workloads to go up rather than down.
Myth 4 – The cloud is simple to manage
Effective management of cloud infrastructures (especially hybrid infrastructures) can be a complex task. Data storage and migration, links between applications, and moving workloads between platforms requires considerable expertise and the correct software tools. Many IT teams will need to acquire new skills to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Myth 5 – The cloud is the answer to everything
The short answer is … it isn’t. It can be tempting to start from the point of view that the cloud is the answer, without first getting a clear idea of what exactly happens to be the question. Start by identifying exactly what the organisation’s challenge is and then determine whether (or not) a cloud is the solution.
Keeping these myths in mind will allow you to see through the hype and understand in realistic terms what the cloud can offer to your organisation. This, in turn, will ensure any investments made deliver the required outcomes.
About the author
Mark Lazarus is the Director of Technology for Nimble Storage across Asia Pacific and Japan. He has over 30 years’ experience in the IT industry in a range of roles. Prior to joining Nimble Storage, he worked at NetApp where he held several roles, including Pre-Sales Consultant and Technical Account Manager with responsibility for global enterprise accounts with a focus on the mining industry. His previous roles have also included Consulting Director at NetIQ while his overall industry experience has primarily been spent working with financial services, resources and mining companies and large outsourcing vendors. Mark started his working life as a software developer.