Cloud computing is a standard feature for many small to medium sized companies today, which enjoy the ease with which services can be ordered, purchased, provisioned and used. But are all cloud solutions created equally? Absolutely not; there are some common misconceptions about cloud services which are well worth knowing about – because when you do, it means managing the risks associated with putting company information online.
Myth one: All cloud services are secure and in high grade data centres
One of the big advantages of cloud solutions is their security and persistence. After all, the service provider leverages scale to invest in data centre capacity and security systems which go far beyond what you can afford, right? Wrong. Some ‘cloud service providers’ are nothing more than the online equivalent of a back yard mechanic. The data centre might be a cupboard with a few rickety servers barely clinging to life in amongst the dust.
Avoid getting into a scenario like this by knowing where (and how) the services are hosted. Look for Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services certification; that’s a far better bet than a startup trying to built its own data centre in a spare room.
Myth two: Cloud will definitely work for my business
While the range of cloud solutions available today is almost infinitely wide, that doesn’t mean the concept is necessarily applicable in your business. Some organisations are better-served by on-premise solutions. Others may be hampered by specific processes which depend on older devices; some might not have the sort of connectivity necessary for cloud services. Yet more might not be ready from a human resources perspective (people don’t always like change!).
Establish what’s best for your organisation by engaging with a trusted service provider – not one which will try to get you to buy whatever it is selling.
Myth three: Cloud will cost less
This is a tricky one, because ‘lower cost’ is one of the most commonly advanced justifications for migrating to cloud. There may be some advantages, particularly as cloud solutions which replace on-premise software often mean a shift from capital expenditure – which can hurt – to a monthly operationalised fee.
But be warned: that monthly fee can scale rapidly as more and more services are added. It is necessary to factor in bandwidth costs, too (and the possible necessity of upgrading connectivity shouldn’t be ruled out). Finally, you could find yourself at the mercy of unpredictable costs: some cloud services providers can (and do) unexpectedly change their pricing plans.
By fully understanding all the costs involved in the provision of cloud services, an accurate picture will emerge, providing for informed decision-making.
Myth four: It’s all or nothing
More like nothing…could be further from the truth. Most companies ‘dip a toe’ into cloud computing by starting with one or two services, often email or storage, before looking at additional options. This staged approach generally gives rise to a hybrid environment; as the advantages and benefits of cloud become clear, the organisation gets a better idea of what works for it in the cloud, and also perhaps what does not. Even mature environments, therefore, tend to be a combination of on-premise and cloud.
Myth five: My staff will be more productive
All the technology in the world won’t make untrained or unmotivated people more productive. Getting value from a shift to cloud solutions depends on supporting users with change management support and training. It also requires redundant connectivity (multiple internet links; if one goes down, the other keeps business turning over) and sufficiently fast internet.
Myth Six: Cloud never breaks
We’d love to say this isn’t the case – but even the best systems will occasionally fail (those outlined in Myth One will fail a lot). The reality is that even the best cloud provided services still have some risk of downtime and the possibility of security breaches. Having a plan for the unexpected is therefore highly advisable; use multiple cloud providers for crucial company information and have alternative means of working should things go wrong. It’s a good idea to discuss ‘what if’ scenarios with your service provider to make sure your company (and its information) is sufficiently resilient.
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