Head in the Cloud: Why it’s time for businesses to come down to earth

Jesse Stockall, Chief Architect at Snow Software explores the common myths and misconceptions surrounding cloud deployment and the steps that businesses and IT leaders must take in order to reap success from the cloud.

Amidst the widescale transition to hybrid working, the cloud proved its worth, with the flexibility and elasticity acting as key drivers to its adoption. However, despite its popularity, migrating to the cloud has its own set of unique challenges – many of which derive from a series of misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding this new technology…

Misconception #1 – Cloud transition is easy

Cloud infrastructure was positioned as the ultimate solution to many IT management challenges. Although its promises – speed, agility, cost savings and security – can be realised, organisations underestimate the full scope of what is needed to truly reap these benefits. According to a recent Snow survey, more than 68% of IT leaders, whose organisations employ a hybrid strategy of both public and private clouds, are now experiencing cloud and infrastructure management challenges, as the reality of these investments kicks in.

The first misconception is that migrating to cloud involves little or no effort to guarantee success. This is not the case – while you can certainly be more efficient in the cloud, there’s work to be done to get to this stage. Starting with understanding your business and applications, monitoring costs, and deploying high levels of governance, as well as resource and upfront investment to reap the true benefits and achieve ROI.

The survey also highlighted the disparity between understanding and skill related to cloud, with 63% of C-level IT executives rating themselves experts on the different types of cloud, compared to just 32% of IT directors and only 20% of IT managers.

Misconception #2 – Cloud isn’t secure

Security and data breaches in the cloud get a lot of attention, as one minor oversight in cloud deployment and management can have disastrous consequences. Amidst the rapid pace of cloud adoption, it’s not unusual to hear IT leaders express concerns. In fact, for 24% of IT leaders mitigating concerns around cybersecurity protections is a challenge they wish they could solve instantly.

Rather than any inherent security issues within the cloud itself, applications are where vulnerabilities arise, due to IT departments not being equipped with enough resource or the expertise to adapt their security approach to keep up with the evolving cybersecurity threats.

Misconception #3 – Cloud is always cheaper

When properly implemented, one of the main selling points of cloud is its affordability via its pay as you go (PAYG) and on-demand charge models. However, there is a common misconception that cloud is always less expensive than on-premises deployments, since there is no data centre hardware investment or maintenance.

Whilst it’s certainly possible to save money in the cloud, compared to on-premises data centres, it’s vital to ensure that you’re monitoring your usage. A common mistake made is leaving the process running in the background, generating an expensive bill.

This is particularly true where groups and departments within a business start to build their own infrastructure in the cloud without IT approval (known as shadow IT) – therefore a key requirement of cloud adoption is installing appropriate governance and overall technology intelligence.

Misconception #4 – One size fits all cloud solutions

Whether it’s Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) not all cloud solutions fit all companies and suitability depends entirely on the business model.

An IaaS model is perfect for a company that has its own on-premises data centre with IT staff who are trained and experienced. For companies without the resources or experience, using a SaaS model is the best choice. However, the size of the company, its objectives, and the skillset available needs to be considered. If you’re trying to get out of managing infrastructure, look to a PaaS model, and if you’re a larger company, a combination of the three is ideal.

While the cloud has been positioned as a faster, more secure, and more affordable alternative to on-premises infrastructure, IT leaders need to realise that cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution but a single piece in overall IT management. Certainly, there are advantages to be had but the real benefits come from the effort put in – which is underpinned by having the right visibility, transparency and reactive measures in place.

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