4 misconceptions about Cloud

By Hussain Shabbir

The present market is evolving into a system of connected enterprise. Thus, cloud has become the central driver for this evolution as the primary focus shifts towards accommodation of future scalability and improving business efficiency.

This rising popularity of Cloud Computing has given rise to multiple misconceptions over various aspects, some common and some not – so – common ones. Over the years of experience with cloud solutions, I have come across some myself. These misconceptions usually fall under the following focus areas.

#1: Security – does it really take care of itself on Cloud?

Until recent times, we use to hear a lot about how the cloud was not very secure. However, that era is over now and I believe this primary misconception has been debunked to a great extent now. Recently, I also started to hear the cloud is so secure that you don’t have to worry about ‘securing it’ since it does this on its own! Whilst a bit surprising to hear, I realized this might be because cloud providers, like AWS, are focusing a lot of their investments on security (and compliance).

But we need to keep in mind that security in the cloud is a ‘shared responsibility’ with the cloud provider looking into the security aspects of the cloud platform and underlying infrastructure only. We still have to ensure that we secure the network and the applications that are built on top of the cloud environment.

#2: High Usage Cost – But isn’t cloud supposed to lower my costs?

This one is quite interesting because one of the core reasons companies decide to move to the cloud is due to cost arbitrage. But recently, I’ve started to notice a few companies looking at their cloud provider’s monthly invoice and saying “this was supposed to be much lower”. From a financial perspective, there are two main aspects to be considered:

  • Firstly, due to the ‘pay-as-you-go’ model – you eliminate the upfront capital expenditure and have to only pay for the services / infrastructure that you provision and use on a monthly-OpEx-basis.
  • The second is the actual monthly-OpEx costs. On occasion, these are directly compared to the originally estimated cloud hosting costs. However, it is highly unlikely that the initial ‘estimated’ cloud hosting costs and the ‘actual’ cloud hosting costs will tally. Why? This is also due to two main reasons:
  1. The first is you might start replacing certain traditional components in your application with a ‘better’ cloud service or as we call it, the cloud native substitutes (e.g. a traditional DB server vs. a DB-as-a-Service like AWS’ RDS). These cloud services tend to be a bit costlier than traditional components, but you will also gain in the long-run since you have eliminated other ‘background’ costs which you were not considering when comparing the on premise vs. cloud costs (e.g. the reduced requirement / cost of a DBA since AWS takes care of a lot of the maintenance needs internally).
  2. The second (and often overlooked) reason is due to a higher ‘run-rate’ of cloud adoption. This means that due to the extreme agility of cloud, you will now start to execute more projects since the time taken to procure the required infrastructure is reduced, which in turn will increase your monthly cloud bill.

Therefore, it is very important to look at your monthly cloud expenses with consideration of your other business parameters. It is also critical that you look at optimizing and pruning your cloud infrastructure on a regular basis to ensure you are not paying for services which you had provisioned for some temporary requirement but forgotten to terminate thereafter.

#3: Cloud setup can happen within “Minutes”

Due to the amount of effort put in by the cloud providers, making it easier and faster to provision the required infrastructure on the cloud, I have started to hear “you can provision a complete data-center on the cloud in minutes now, compared to the months as it used to take earlier for setting up a physical data center”. It is true – you don’t have to worry about buildings, wiring, power, cooling, etc. when using the cloud, but you still have to consider all aspects of the upstream infrastructure, mainly on the security aspects. The time taken to setup a cloud environment would reduce drastically when compared to setting up a physical data center, but it would not be within “minutes”.

#4: This is a temporary hype which will fade away soon

This comment is heard very rarely now – a – days, and of course only time will tell. However, when I analyze the quick adoption of cloud in the recent past, it seems like cloud computing is here for the long haul (caveat: or at least until something better comes along!).

Reports suggest that still 69% of the global enterprises today, have ad-hoc or no strategy in place for their cloud adoption.

How much effect do feel these misconceptions have on this low pace in strengthening the cloud strategies?

(Hussain Shabbir is Senior Architect and Head of Public & Private Cloud Practice at VirtusaPolaris.)