Today, cloud computing is becoming mainstream. In Asia Pacific, approximately two-thirds of organizations expect to increase their spending on cloud computing over the next year.
Clearly, decision makers in most Asian organizations, recognize the benefits of cloud computing, which are manifold. These benefits include the ability to offer greater business agility, cost reduction and a switch in IT spending from capital investment to operational expenditure. Basically, cloud computing is becoming critical as a means of gaining a competitive advantage for today’s organizations. It is now a strategic issue.
Nevertheless, adoption of cloud computing, in particular public cloud computing, is being hindered by several myths. The most common myths are:
• Cloud computing is less secure than on-premise alternatives.
• Cloud computing is only suitable for consumers and smaller organizations.
It is not suitable for enterprises.
• Cloud computing is not suitable for mission critical activities.
• Private clouds offer the benefits of cloud computing without the drawbacks.
Myth #1 – Cloud Computing is less secure than on-premise alternatives
Currently, there is no evidence to show that cloud computing is less secure than on-premise alternatives. In fact, there are strong arguments to suggest the opposite. Cloud computing is, in many ways, inherently more secure than on-premise alternatives. Most security breaches are caused by human error. In cloud computing enviroments, more activities are automated, reducing the possibility of human error. Additionally, on-premise systems are usually distributed by nature and therefore have more points of vulnerability. Cloud architectures are more centralized and have fewer points of vulnerability.
Cloud service providers also tend to focus, to a greater extent on security, than most individual organizations. Security breaches, for them, destroy their entire businesses and their credibility as service providers.
Major security breaches in recent years have had nothing to do with cloud computing. Sony, the US DoD, the UK government and others had major security breaches as a result of human error and poor process control. It is much easier to manage these two factors in cloud environments than in on-premise ones.
Myth #2 – Cloud Computing is only suitable for consumers and smaller businesses
Clearly, this statement is not correct as there are many examples of larger organizations using both private clouds and public cloud services. Typically, it is public cloud services that are perceived to be unsuitable for enterprise use. This perception can also be proved to be false.
The best known example of a company that runs on the public cloud is Netflix and it is a US$2 billion organization, hardly a small company. The bulk of its operations are run on Amazon EC2. In APAC, even major financial services firms use public cloud services. For example, BankWest, a subsidiary of Commonwealth bank uses SuccessFactors. Salesforce.com is widely used in enterprises as is Netsuite and Concur.
It is true that regulatory and compliance factors inhibit the use of public cloud services by enterprises, particularly in the financial services sector, across Asia Pacific. However, this only relates to customer data. There are many more applications in areas such as HR, ERP and accounting that lend themselves to the public cloud without causing regulatory challenges.
Myth #3 – Cloud Computing is not suitable for mission critical activities
It is true that, in many cases, cloud computing is not suitable for mission critical activities. However, there are examples of cloud computing being used for mission critical workloads and the number of such examples will grow rapidly. For example, Netflix uses Amazon for mission critical activities. Increasingly, we are seeing a variety of workloads shifting to the cloud, including the public cloud. Public cloud service providers are now offering improved SLAs, similar to other providers of services centered around mission critical activities.
The increased use of smart phones and tablets by senior executives and their demands to do their work on these devices is driving mission critical workloads into the cloud. These mobile devices carry minimal amounts of data and are designed to access data located remotely, in the cloud.
Public cloud services also offer high levels of business agility which is important with mission critical workloads.
Finally, 67% of server infrastructures are virtualized. Virtualization is a key step on the journey towards cloud computing. Mission critical workloads can be expected to share this journey.
Myth #4 – Private Clouds offer the benefits of cloud computing without the drawbacks
Security is often given as a drawback of public cloud computing that can be overcome by using private clouds. However, there is no evidence to suggest that private clouds are more secure than public clouds. In fact, most public clouds deploy best practice security policies and procedures. This is not always the case with private clouds.
There are a variety of different types of private clouds offering a few or many of the benefits of cloud computing. Typically, private clouds do not offer the following benefits that are usually offered by public cloud services:
• An Opex model instead of a Capex one.
• As much scalability as can be offered by public clouds.
• Economies of scale associated with sharing resources, which are found in
• Little need for support services and scarce skills.
In summary, there are reasons to be cautious about any shift in the way business is done and this includes the shift to cloud computing. However, over the past few years, outright falsehoods about cloud computing, specifically the public cloud model have spread widely and influenced perceptions within the business community. It is time for these falsehoods to be challenged more widely and for the benefits of cloud computing to be evaluated without prejudice.