The Truth About Cloud

As CEO you have undoubtedly heard about cloud computing. Under cloud your company's data and applications can be contained and run on the computers and networks of a third party like Google or Amazon, theoretically lowering your cost and reducing your data centers (along with staff). 

If I sat you down for coffee, here are five things I'd tell you about cloud:

1) Pure cloud constitutes an interim step -- App Internet will offer better solutions. Local devices like your iPhone or Android tablet or server are becoming ever more powerful -- under App Internet those devices will join up with the cloud to solve problems. Compare an iPad (with apps) to a Google Chromebook and you'll get the idea. 

2) Storing your most sensitive data in the cloud is a bad idea. Because cloud vendors typically do not reveal their security protocols, there is no way to verify how safe your data will be. And if it is lost, you are liable, not the cloud vendor.

3) The cloud can be cheaper. Some vendors are claiming 50% cost reductions -- that's hogwash. But in some cases it could reduce operational costs by 10%-30%.

4) You can't just flip a switch and go to the cloud. Before you go, Forrester recommends a full audit and rationalization of: 1) your data portfolio, 2) your applications portfolio, and 3) your security architecture. In other words, your roadmap must be plotted before you go cloud -- or you'll be repaving cow paths.

5) The primary reason for going cloud is agility, not cost savings. Cloud can unlock data -- speeding up your business and making it easier for your people in the field to get the right information at the right time.

What other observations do you have on cloud? What has been your experience? I'd love to get your thoughts.

Comments

Back to what you said about

Back to what you said about security. If you're on a shared server (many are and probably don't know it), then if someone attacks the company of someone else on your server you're vulnerable. If someone from one of those companies messes things up themselves it could effect you. If you're not on a shared and are on a dedicated it really just saves money initially. You're not paying to purchase a server, and someone to set you up if you don't know how. But if you're using the cloud for several years the amount you pay monthly for the dedicated server may surpass what you'd spend to set up your own. I think people feels there's something magical about being in the cloud. But you're just moving the server from your office to the provider's office.

Security

Your statement is way too broad re security. Most credible cloud app / SaaS vendors do share their security protocols (including our firm). The nature of your posts is broad granted, but from this perspective looks like you gloss over important and relevant distinctions for the sake of a short story.

Organizational Readiness

Of course cloud has several benefits like Flexibility and scalability , less cost and complexity but the long - term risk in the cloud is the organizational readiness. The organization has to change the way while consuming IT services. It has to be fundamentally ready to change the way it interacts with the service provider and the business.

Agile & the Cloud

Great article! Although the cloud will help to make a business more flexible and agile, the true potential benefits of a move to the cloud won't be unlocked unless the on-the-ground systems are able to interact effectively with the new cloud-based apps and data. Legacy systems are not able to fully realize the potential of the cloud, so business's must re-think the traditional way of developing and integrating systems!

Spot on

George, you've hit the nail on the head. Its time analysts like ourselves cut through all the media hype and call cloud for what it is. While the upsides of cloud are many, adopting cloud is not, as you said, 'flipping a switch'.

A couple of months ago, I did put together a few thoughts on addressing the skepticism around cloud computing that seems to be the thought undercurrent of most CEOs and business decision makers. Here's the line of thought:

http://unconsulting.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/cloud-computing-addressing-...

I believe addressing cloud as a customized solution in each case than taking a cookie cutter approach to cloud adoption would pave the way towards App Internet.

~Navin Quadros

Cloud in China...

If you are a cloud advocate, come to China -- it may give you pause...

I have been here this week and have discovered that:

1) Dropbox is outlawed and doesn't work.
2) Twitter is outlawed and rarely works.
3) Facebook is outlawed and rarely works.
4) YouTube is outlawed and rarely works.
5) Google is unreliable, probably as a result of the Google/China clash.
6) All traffic between your device and the network passes through the "Great Firewall" -- and who knows who is listening.

Cloud is gennext

The primary reason for going to cloud is that it is the next generation solution in every aspect including security. When eighty percent of breach is internal it is safer to be in the cloud. Not using cloud is akin to sticking to vintage desktop in the era of tablets

It Depends...

Enjoyed the article though, similar to Augustus, I disagree with you on #2. Having operated a SaaS portfolio, including large data repository, security varies by vendor. In our case, to secure Healthcare and Financial business, we had to routinely expose precisely what our security methodologies were. In addition, we were routinely subject to penetration testing. While never fun, pentests were always useful. Major (resource-rich) customers would review their findings with us and we'd use them for further improvements.

Cost savings 'depends' on what it is you're looking to accomplish. You -can- see 30-50% savings in certain business cases. However, whether you see 0, 1, or 50% savings, is going to be directly tied to your #4. Do your due diligence, prepare properly, and you can have a reasonable expectation of success. The failures are always those that tried to 'flip a switch.'

With regard to #5, Agility, Flexibility, and -Scalability-, are major values driving cloud adoption. However, data is not necessarily freed up by a move to the cloud. If you're not careful, you can easily find your data held captive by your provider every bit as much as any other manner of implementation.

Cheers.