CIO Cloud Computing 101: Problems With Clouds

by drjim on August 3, 2009

Not All Clouds Are Right For Cloud Computing<br>(c) - 2006

Not All Clouds Are Right For Cloud Computing(c) - 2006

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 cloud computing is still an emerging technology – it’s not quite fully baked yet. Neal Leavitt has spent some time studying cloud computing and has identified the following seven issues. CIOs will need to investigate their potential effects before agreeing to any cloud computing initiative:

  • Control: this is the biggest issue when it comes to using cloud computing. By design a company gives up control when they sign up to use a firm’s cloud resources. This means that the cloud 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?
  • 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.

Questions For You

How important is it for you to retain complete control over your IT boxes? How much downtime can your department / business handle? What would the impact of a security breach be? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Cloud computing is hot – there’s no denying that. However, as with all things in the information technology field, cloud computing isn’t standing still. Even as  you read these words, engineers are hard at work defining and refining just exactly what a cloud computing architecture looks like and how it behaves. Let’s take a peek at what the future holds…

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave August 4, 2009 at 5:04 am

Business opportunities in Cloud Computing; how can CIOs take full advantages of the shift to hosted applications? Want to hear Marc Beniof, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, will discuss this and other key points?
Hear him speak at the first ever Business Cloud Summit in December. More details here: http://www.businesscloud9.com/summit

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Robbie Schlarbaum July 26, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Considering that the “Cloud” is just a new good name for the Internet I’d personally not say oahu is the most asinine idea ever. What i’m saying is it took some marketing person many brain cycles to offer the world wide web with a client as being a new and improved technique of doing things. You are unable to search for a client and say, “I currently have this excellent idea. Let us put your info/product/storage etc.. on the Internet” That will not sound good. “I ‘ve got this great idea. Let us put your info/product/storage etc within the Cloud” Now that you could sell. Many people making financial decisions for a company get easily attracted by shiny coins and bright lights it is a great term on an old product wih a new way of implementing it.

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Dr. Jim Anderson July 29, 2011 at 10:25 am

Robbie: Good point. Remember that cloud computing is not a new idea. The last time around it was called Application Service Providers (ASP) and it crashed at the same time that the dot.com boom ended…

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IT Training August 16, 2012 at 11:18 am

As to the cloud, the perspective of renting computational resources and paying for it just like in case of ordinary utility bills looks great though provided that there won’t be a monopoly on this market and associated costs would be low enough to discourage users from buying their own hardware or software. Sounds bit ridiculous, but this might be the future.

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Dr. Jim Anderson August 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Very good point. One issue that bring up is the need to be able to “switch” clouds if you don’t like the utility that you are currently using. It needs to be easy to do, but right now it is not…

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