Nobody said life in the cloud was going to be simple. Sure it's chock full of benefits -- high availability, flexibility and potential time and cost savings -- but cloud computing brings about a different set of headaches. Whether there are unforeseen money drains, compatibility issues or cloud fatigue in general, cloud administrators and experts are bound to express frustrations with their own IT environments and cloud providers.
"I'm a big believer in SaaS solutions, but there's a lot of stuff under the hood that you've got to think about."
Adopting Software as a Service (SaaS) in an enterprise can mean simplified management and cost savings, but at least one IT pro cautions potential customers to peek behind the curtain of benefits and see what's really back there.
Sean McDermott, CEO of Winward IT Solutions, an IT service management and systems engineering firm in Herndon, Va., has seen first-hand the headaches involved in integrating on-premises applications and data -- headaches that come as a surprise to many SaaS adopters. "There's this expectation that moving to a SaaS-based solution … is going to solve all their problems, and they're shocked when they see the bill," he said.
"Enterprises that do not manage their data bills with the carriers are going to be in shock."
Surprise IT costs don't just come from cloud computing services. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend in modern enterprises also has companies stuck footing a hefty bill. While mobile devices can add efficiencies and worker productivity, the much-anticipated release of Apple's iPhone 5 is both a blessing and a curse for enterprises.
Brian Katz, director of mobile engineering for Sanofi Group, a pharmaceutics manufacturer in Bridgewater, N.J., says companies that have been paying for employees' iPhone data plays should reevaluate them with the new iPhone 5, which is LTE-enabled. The iPhone 5 consumes data more rapidly than 3G devices. And you thought you were the only one experiencing iPhone 5 sticker shock?
"I can hardly stomach the term 'cloud' anymore because it has become so overused by marketing personnel."
The term "cloud" itself gives Eric Kilgore a headache. Kilgore, a member of the IT infrastructure team for Severstal North America, a manufacturing company in Dearborn, Mich., isn't alone. In a recent survey by TechTarget, 39% of respondents reported they do not use cloud computing services -- and 80% of those respondents do not intend to do so for at least a year. The perception of cloud's poor security or the fear of losing control of their IT environment is partly to blame, but many people in IT, like Kilgore, suffer from cloud fatigue and are unimpressed. "At the end of the day, it is still a bunch of computers running software," he said.
"Google apparently sees an opportunity to switch users to its browser. Firefox is just as likely a beneficiary of this because of Google's reputation on data privacy."
Google is causing some headaches, both for its users and itself. Google announced the termination of support for Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) on Google Apps, leaving users the choice to change their browser or upgrade to the new Windows operating system (OS.) Since an OS change likely also means a hardware change, it seems probable that users will opt to switch from IE8 to Mozilla Firefox or, as Google hopes, to Chrome. But Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., thinks Google is overestimating its support. Will users see through Google's attempt to force its browser upon them?
"You don't need to be an expert … because it's broken down in a very simple, tabulated format."
To end on a more upbeat note, not everyone is banging their heads against the wall when it comes to cloud computing. Some people are finding new ways to save time, money and headaches. CloudPhysics, a cloud-based "big data" analytics tool in beta, offers some IT pros a simple way to aggregate and analyze complex information. Nathan Smith, the senior engineer at Centered Networks Inc., a San Francisco-based Desktop as a Service provider, appreciates the business insights CloudPhysics can deliver, even without having to learn all the ins and outs of big data.
Caitlin White is associate site editor for SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was first published in September 2012