Cloud computing is revolutionizing small business all over the world, but many of its skeptics are in the ranks of IT professionals themselves. An international survey conducted by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association earlier this year revealed that one in 4 professionals polled would not use the cloud at all, while only 1 in 10 would use it for mission-critical tasks.
The IT industry moves faster than any other, yet many IT professionals are not only conservative when it comes to the cloud but downright afraid, steering their companies away from it and, in many cases, from greater enterprise and profitability. Is the fear justified? We take a look at some of reasons why people fear the cloud, and the facts that they overlook.
Fear: Cloud computing means loss of control.
Businesses fear that clouds take away control over their own data and, without complete infrastructural control, reliability and access cannot be ensured.
Technology has evolved to the point where control itself has been virtualized to a great degree. Cloud computing is not the answer to every business's every need, but complete infrastructural control is not always a need for all businesses either. Sophisticated partners provide granular administrative controls, and clouds on the grid computing system have been proven to be 99.999 percent reliable. Assessing the cloud's viability for specific purposes requires businesses to define how much and what kind of control they need, and to investigate vendors' infrastructure and administrative offerings before making a decision.
Fear: We'll be tied to one vendor.
SaaS products have proprietary encryption formats that can lock-in customers and make it difficult to migrate data in the future.
This is a valid concern, but it is not specific, let alone unique, to the cloud. On-premise vendors also have proprietary formats, not to mention prohibitive migration costs and the need for specialized technical expertise, which can prevent organizations from moving to a different solution. In fact, most quality SaaS vendors make it easy to not only to access but export data as is. Companies which use SaaS successfully address these concerns before choosing a vendor by doing thorough research into migration and support options. Your business is the customer for SaaS and it's in their interest to provide every incentive for you to come on board, including easier migration.
Fear: Security and data integrity can be compromised.
Skeptics fear that in shared warehouses, data can be breached or cross-contaminated.
This is an old canard with little to no basis in reality. Security is one of the areas in which well-run SaaS vendors with impeccable data centers can outperform all but the best traditional IT shops. Quality SaaS vendors offer top-level security, frequent and multiple back-ups and several contingency plans in case of faults. More generally, concerns over security can be put to rest by investigating the vendor's security policies, systems and data-sharing protocol before choosing.
The fact is that many of the risks cited by cloud skeptics are common to IT environments in general, and a competent IT professional should already have systems in place that minimize those risks. Other concerns are more challenging and SaaS-specific, but can be eliminated through vendor evaluation.
Businesses today cannot afford to be afraid of the cloud; current market realities require that all options be considered without prejudice. IT professionals who categorically refuse to consider the cloud or evaluate vendors methodologically might be masking their own resistance to change, or even their vulnerability in critical areas, and harming their company's bottom-line in the process.
About the Author: Rick Porting is an establish author, analyst, and consultant. He has worked as both an Oracle Consultant and SAP Consultant for over 10 years.