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Bust these common cloud computing myths

For most enterprises, it is no longer a question of if they will move to the cloud, but when.

The public cloud services market has steadily grown over the past few years. In 2016 alone, it will increase 16.5% to $204 billion, according to analyst firm Gartner. But even with cloud’s popularity, there’s still a number of cloud computing myths and misconceptions that steer some enterprises in the wrong direction.

We asked the SearchCloudComputing Advisory Board what they consider to be the most common cloud computing myths that influence enterprises’ decisions – and why those misconceptions exist. Here’s a look at their answers.

Christopher Wilder

The first misconception of cloud computing is that it’s a business strategy. It’s not. Cloud has evolved from competitive advantage to competitive parity. However, organizations need to be smart about what they put in the cloud, and what they keep on-premises. I anticipate in the next three years, over 80% of businesses will have at least one application that resides in the cloud.

Another misconception is that cloud will save you money by moving IT costs from Capex to Opex.  The upfront costs of moving to the cloud tend to be smaller, but the long-term costs are normally on par with in-house infrastructure costs. In the next two years, cloud deployment costs, especially within the public cloud providers, will be equal, if not more, to the investment for on-premises IT deployment costs.

Finally, another misconception is the ease of migration to the cloud from traditional on-premises environments. Although it’s getting better, the lack of viable cloud migration and automation tools make it more difficult for companies to seamlessly move. These tools have traditionally been very difficult to use and require specific and expensive expertise. Furthermore, moving applications to the cloud also means you must move all integration and supporting elements; if you decide to change providers, it can lead to both a contractual and technical quagmire.

Bill Wilder

One myth is that running applications in the public cloud is less expensive than the on-premises equivalent. Let’s consider a simple scenario: your company is running a line of business (LoB) web application on-premises and is considering moving it to the public cloud, such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS).

A LoB application typically requires servers, disk, and database resources — and corresponding staff to install, tune and patch databases, servers and more. A lift and shift approach could move this exact architecture to the cloud. The architecture would map cleanly to cloud features, such as VMs and storage, but you will still need the same staff expertise — plus more, since you’ve added new skills to work with your public cloud platform. There are many valid reasons to move to the cloud with a lift and shift approach, but if cost is the only driver, this configuration in isolation may be more expensive than on-premises.

Now consider a more cloud-native approach. Instead of running your own database on a VM, you choose a provider’s managed database with lower operational complexity. You deploy your web code on platform as a service, further reducing operational complexity and supporting fast deployments. Your LoB web application may be nearly idle overnight and on weekends, so you scale resource usage to match the need at any given time — without any downtime. By taking advantage of these and other efficiencies available in the public cloud, this configuration can be highly cost-efficient.

And the lesson here is that cost efficiency in the cloud requires effort.

Gaurav Pal

Many IT organizations, especially in large organizations, continue to believe that commercial cloud platforms, such as AWS and Azure, are not secure or cost-effective alternatives for providing hosting and infrastructure services. We continue to see security issues as the top reason for not migrating to a more cost-efficient and flexible model of enterprise services delivery However, this is largely a myth that partially stems from a lack of understanding of the new security model that cloud platforms provide. The U.S. federal government recently announced that three cloud platforms meet the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program’s High Baseline Requirements, which include a comprehensive set of controls to protect sensitive data.

Progressive organizations like Capital One, GE and many others, including large public sector agencies, continue to realize the business benefits of agility and better security through the tools and services provided through standardized interfaces and APIs. I fully expect more large organizations to pivot and direct their investment dollars to business-oriented services, such as machine learning and data science, rather than build data centers or private clouds.

Alex Witherspoon

I think there’s a misconception that cloud is universally cheaper and better. I like cloud, a lot. It is where I am putting a lot of my investments and my business … but every time I would talk about a potential business use case to [a vendor] it wasn’t, “Hey, deploy this thing to solve that,” instead it’s, “Well, get this recipe of seven products we sell, put it together, engineer it and then see how magical it can be.” To do that, I am going to have to invest a whole bunch of engineering effort to actually make my application work that way.

Cloud can be a groundbreaker; it can make you a winner in your business, but be very specific about your intentions. As cloud providers try to differentiate themselves, trying to understand the problem you [need] to solve and the best tool to solve it is going to be really hard and difficult in the coming years. Do you go with a generalist, like AWS, that just tries to be good at everything, or are you going to find someone who specializes in [specific cloud features]?

We really [need to] respect cloud for what is it: a series of hosting providers that have different unique qualities that need to be evaluated. I think some folks are just really quick to jump right into what their one favorite cloud is and just live there. I think folks would do well to give a little more credence to what problems they are really trying to solve, and what cloud providers are trying to specialize in. AWS is obviously heading in many different directions, but some of these smaller providers have a specialty. That’s where they are spending their money, which means that’s where you’re going to get the best return on your investment as a customer.