Cloud Computing: A Mistake?

The cloud has made things easier. Without doubt, the convenience of storing information online has encouraged many businesses to jump at the opportunity to implement cloud computing solutions for their enterprise. Cloud computing was one of the most popular buzzwords of 2012, and its popularity is continuing to increase through 2013. Not only large corporations, but SMEs are migrating to the cloud, and increasingly affordable cloud solutions are encouraging more and more businesses to dive in.
But we must evaluate a serious question; is cloud computing one giant mistake?
As developers who work with cloud technologies, you may expect us to blindly promote cloud solutions, but we wouldn’t be doing our job properly unless we evaluated the risks, discussed the problems, and worked tirelessly to eradicate the potential issues associated with implementing a cloud-based solution for your business.

Risks of Cloud Computing

Firstly we want to evaluate the risks associated with cloud computing. As highlighted by its popularity, there are undoubtedly some benefits, but are these diluted by the problems?
In his recent talk at the Hay Festival, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt cited the growing problems with “hacker terrorism” and the dangers that not only governments but businesses are facing in an increasingly digital world. Cloud technology means that there is a window for hackers to break through, and the only thing in the way is the thickness of the glass. This means that your business must ensure that data is held behind multiple layers of password protection. As Schmidt warned during his discussion; everybody is now a target for hackers.
Although we are living in an increasingly connected world, cloud computing still depends on network reliability. Quite simply, you need the internet to access your data. Most cafes, pubs, restaurants, and hotels do provide wireless, and there are also plenty of wi-fi “hotspots” around the country, such as BT’s. However, if you do have an unreliable internet connection, the cloud may not be the best option. Cloud systems are prone to outages, because internet connection is prone to outages. This is something that you can’t really prepare for.
The issue of centralisation also provides a risk. If a cloud storage provider has a catastrophic outage, the data stored with their servers is also unavailable. You are solely relying on the provider’s capacity to deliver an unbroken service, which is always a dangerous game for a business.
At RibbonFish, we need to stay on top of the risks concerning the business systems that we implement, so these concerns are always in our mind when we are implementing a business IT solution to a client. Even when the system is based on-site, security is still a major factor to consider in design.

Eradicating the Risks of Cloud Computing

So, we have looked at the potential problems of cloud computing, but how could we eradicate these issues, to make sure that we can be confident about using the cloud and comfortable with how it benefits our businesses?
The first problem to address is security. A multi-layered password protection system is arguably effective enough. However, business users needing to access information quickly may not take too kindly to making sure they can remember two or three different passwords. We work hard to ensure that our solutions are secure, be it Office 365, SharePoint, Dynamics CRM or Salesforce. Functionality is the important thing on the surface, but underneath this, our clients must have the confidence that their cloud solution is safe and secure.
The issue of connectivity is something that will improve over time. Sure, we think that there are a lot of wireless hotspots now, but you wait 3 years! The evolution of super fast 4G mobile connection revolutionises this, and improved coverage and more affordable costing will eventually make it impossible to be disconnected, no matter where you are.
If your business is considering switching to cloud storage, make sure that the vendor you’re working with has some official accreditation and a good reputation on the market. It seems obvious, but it is better to pay more for a more reliable and secure vendor than it is to lose all your most important company data to a cowboy. Even Google has some outages, but it is always safer to make sure your vendor has good backing, and is stable. It’s all common sense, but be careful.

A Mistake?

So, is cloud computing a mistake? Probably not. Mistakes can be made when implementing cloud technology, and it would definitely be a mistake to ignore the warnings about security and selecting a reputable vendor. Cloud computing is a recent revolution that observers have become sceptical about, but in an increasingly digital world, storing data in an easily accessible, off-site location is something that will not go away. Unfortunately, as security improves, hackers will improve. It is a running battle. But you can always minimise the risk by taking the necessary precautions so that your business doesn’t become an easy target.
If you need more advice about implementing a cloud solution for your business, get in touch.
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