Cloud Computing. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Article Written by David Marshall

Cloud computing is absolutely one of those words that shows up on everyone's "Tech Buzzword Bingo" cards. Even so, that shouldn't and doesn't negate the fact that cloud computing is driving innovation across many industries and will continue to provide a significant impact on revenue in the coming years. 

Recently, hybrid cloud has become the cloud model of choice for many companies looking to foster greater flexibility into their infrastructure, and it can do so in a cost-effective manner. For many, hybrid seems to be a good way to ease into things, allowing a company to keep some data on-premises while freeing up some of their infrastructure by moving other data up into the public cloud.

But like so many things in life, it isn't all good all the time.  So what's the good, the bad and the ugly? 

 

The Good?

Cloud computing has a number of benefits.  By working in the cloud, a company can easily expand their ability to store information; they can reduce IT staff or reallocate head count to higher level tasks; it shifts things to a "pay for what you use" mentality and provides the ability to burst to cover peak demand as needed; and for those watching the wallet, it helps companies cut long-term costs and move IT charges from capital expenses to operational expenses, making forecasting and budgeting easier. Another benefit is the availability of information from any location, on any platform of technology. In the end, by adding public cloud into the mix, even small organizations can achieve a better business continuity plan.

But is cloud computing all good without the bad or the ugly?  In a lot of cases, the answer is no.  Come on!  That would be too easy, wouldn't it?  

The Bad?  

There are a number of things that could be defined as bad, but more realistically, these things just need to be taken into consideration.  Security remains one of the top concerns when adopting the cloud and that could include things from regulatory compliance to data loss. Another drawback could be the dependency on connectivity.  Poor network speeds and bandwidth issues might prove inconvenient and add an unsuspecting cost that needs to be addressed; but even worse, a network outage could bring the entire operation to a grinding halt -- at what cost?

The Ugly?

If you go off-premises, make sure to find out about data ownership. Figure out in advance what happens to your data when you no longer want to use a cloud service or provider.  Who is responsible for the move and at what cost and how do you go about transitioning things?  And know who owns what.  This is just the tip of the "ugly" iceberg, but those questions should provide some food for thought on the matter.

And don't forget, integrating change with your employees may result in one of two outcomes: people will embrace the change (nirvana) or they will react negatively to those changes as if they are pure evil and you are out to get them personally.

In the end, the important thing is to analyze whether the benefits of moving to some form of cloud computing outweigh the risks for you and your organization.

Choosing private, public or hybrid cloud is about being methodical and informed in your decision making process. Don't just jump in with both feet and your eyes closed because someone along the way told you it was a good idea.  Be aware of your industry regulations and data protection laws. Talk to multiple peers and partners to find out what's worked best for them and why. And before you pull the trigger, see if there is a trial period before you spend a lot of time, effort and money doing something that could cost even more time, effort and money to roll back.

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About the Author

David Marshall is an industry recognized virtualization and cloud computing expert, a seven time recipient of the VMware vExpert distinction, and has been heavily involved in the industry for the past 16 years.  To help solve industry challenges, he co-founded and helped start several successful virtualization software companies such as ProTier, Surgient, Hyper9 and Vertiscale. He also spent a few years transforming desktop virtualization while at Virtual Bridges.

David is also a co-author of two very popular server virtualization books: "Advanced Server Virtualization: VMware and Microsoft Platforms in the Virtual Data Center" and "VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center" and the Technical Editor on Wiley's "Virtualization for Dummies" and "VMware VI3 for Dummies" books.  David also authored countless articles for a number of well known technical magazines, including: InfoWorld, Virtual-Strategy and TechTarget.  In 2004, he founded the oldest independent virtualization and cloud computing news site, VMblog.com, which he still operates today.

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