CIO Cloud Computing 101 – Problems With Clouds

Cloud computing is all the rage these days and everyone who is anyone is making plans to implement at least some flavor of it as soon as possible. It turns out that the decision to go with a cloud computing solution for your IT department might not be as simple as some would lead you to believe. There are challenges to successfully using a cloud and we need to talk about them…

The Seven Challenges Of Cloud Computing

With all of the magazine articles, conferences, and vendors who have shown up to sell it, it’s easy to forget that utility computing is still an emerging technology – it’s not quite fully baked yet. Neal Leavitt has spent some time studying this area and has identified the following seven issues. CIOs will need to investigate their potential effects before agreeing to any cloud-based initiative:

Control: this is the biggest issue when it comes to using utility computing. By design a company gives up control when they sign up to use a firm’s hosting resources. This means that the provider can make changes to the infrastructure without telling the company at any time. This needs to be managed.

Performance / Reliability: When you are using resources that are not located within your firm’s buildings the question of how much computing horsepower you have available when you need it comes up. Additionally, failures will happen and so understanding how you’ll be notified and how quickly issues will be resolved is critical.

Security: You know that you can protect your mission critical business data when it’s inside your own walls, but what happens when somebody else is managing it for you?

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Cost Of Bandwidth: You should be saving money on buying hardware and staffing to maintain it. However, you’ll need to very accurately forecast you bandwidth costs in order to determine the true cost of using the cloud.

Vendor Lock-In: true standards for how applications communicate and control applications that are in a vendor’s cloud have not yet been established. This means that vendors are creating their own proprietary interfaces that could end up tying you to a vendor for longer than you would like.

Transparency: basically this comes down to the difficulty that you’ll have doing an audit of your IT resources. Since you don’t have true visibility into the cloud you can’t say for certain who has access to your data and how you can keep people out of your sensitive data.

Reliability: I’d like to say that clouds are 100% reliable, but I can’t. The trade rags are filled with stories about connections that have gone down and back-up diesel generators that have failed to switch on. There is risk with every decision, you need to decide if you can handle the risk that comes with cloud computing.

Final Thoughts

As exciting as the new field of cloud computing is, CIOs need to slow down and take a deep breath. This is new stuff and that means that not all of the details have been worked out just yet. There are seven major areas that could have a dramatic impact on your company’s ability to get the most out of cloud computing. Do your homework and see if cloud computing offers you a way to apply IT to enable the rest of the company to grow quicker, move faster, and do more.

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