Why IT Veterans Can’t Resist the Cloud
Like it or not, Cloud Computing has transformed the way we communicate; from online storage to social networking, server virtualization truly pushes the boundaries of what is possible in a digitized world. Yet it was only a few years ago that the cloud was merely being used as a buzzword to describe specific web services hosted on shared web space. So what has changed? Cost, for one thing and availability for another; IT decision makers who once criticized the cloud may soon have to embrace it.
The Economics of Cloud Computing
A recent report in the economist wrote that small banking firms were expected to spend nearly $180 million on cloud services to better serve their clients. That means a global market for cloud services and availability is growing rapidly to support consumer demands, as well as expectations. Small banking firms can now host PDFs, email and other important financial documents on cloud storage platforms without having to invest in costly infrastructure. From a supply and demand standpoint the price of cloud based services can only get cheaper.
Lower costs reduce IT complexity and enable organizations to scale infrastructures depending on needs. That aforementioned small banking firm need not employ an entire IT department to maintain a virtual environment. Staff members may now work remotely allowing them to make the most of company resources – favorable attributes made possible by cloud-based resources. Even still, glitter isn’t gold amongst IT veterans who cannot make it past the shortcomings of the cloud. Gartner lists 3 key challenges for cloud computing: Security, governance and privacy for starters.
The threat of downtime is imminent to any organization reliant on cloud-based resources, particularly because cyber-attacks can render this virtual environment unresponsive. To most skeptics, security has become the main concern. At one end, you have the physical layer – a group of servers collocated within a secure location each partitioned to handle a certain amount of traffic, both upstream and downstream. The virtual end routes traffic to and from physical servers accordingly, but the more convoluted the signal path becomes (in theory) the more room for error exists.
Cloud environments are increasingly susceptible to DDoS (distributed denial of service attacks) because security protocols are easily bypassed by attackers at specific points of entry. Some organizations have gone as far as to implement a security appliance within the physical layer of a data center. Others simply rely on cloud security software, of which, can still be foiled by malicious attack. But aside from these obvious security pitfalls (that often beget other technologies), CTO’s still cannot and must not deny that the cloud computing business model works – and to an extent, works rather well considering its shortcomings. In fact, cloud based services are actually driving consumer trends faster than organizations can keep up.
Two Steps Forward One Step Back
Cloud’s popularity often outgrows infrastructure simply because it is cheap and everyone wants to offer a service to one-up the competition. What happens then is that companies partition more storage – enough to keep up with demand for the next few years, only to find that they’ve exceeded capacity in just a few short months. In that regard, cloud becomes a victim of its own success forcing IT decision makers back to the drawing board. Skeptics will still argue you cannot make a cloud environment secure as in a dedicated environment. Yet at this point there is no turning back. Clients, shareholders and customers expect to have specific IT resources at their fingertips, and as everyone runs to cloud based computing platforms, traditionalists must adapt or risk falling behind the times.
From an economic standpoint, cloud will continue to level the playing field for all types of IT vendors so long as organizations realize what their true cost of ownership is. If they aren’t utilizing their infrastructure efficiently they may be losing money by not outsourcing to a cloud provider such as, for example, AWS amazon web services. Whichever solution decision makers decide to stick with, one thing’s for certain; cloud product offerings will improve and costs will come down.
This is a post written by on behalf of Colocation America, a leading provider of data center services in Los Angeles.