Cloud Computing: Advantages and Disadvantages
This article tackles and attempts to alleviate the concerns regarding cloud computing. Security, control, cost, access, and adaptability are all delved into regarding the cloud.
Cloud security is the most public, well-known debate related to cloud computing. Usually, when trusting another company with a part of your business, security is the first priority.
Fortunately, cloud service providers know that, too. Cloud companies know one breach is all it takes to ruin their company’s image, providing strong incentives for these companies to invest in the foremost security tools. Cloud services operate by the strictest standards in data protection, standards that very few on-premises companies can compete with.
With this in mind, we argue that in regard to security, storing your data off-premises generally does better than keeping it nearby in on-site IT equipment. The United States’ CIA, the world’s preeminent intelligence agency, now trusts Amazon Web Services (AWS) with all their projects. They agreed to a 10-year contract worth $600 million, evidence of the trusted security that the right cloud services provide. The Central Intelligence Agency’s deal with AWS was finalized late in 2013. Now, three years later, security measures and improvements have only become more rigorous. Highly publicized public data breaches can be scary, but statistically, data in the right cloud is safer than on-premises infrastructure.
When signing up for any cloud service, whether an Infrastructure, Platform, or Software as a Service (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS), do some research to make sure that the cloud business you’re entrusting uses the highest security standards. After all, your precious data is safer in the hands of trained experts running a business that specifically deals with various forms of cloud computing. The bottom line: avoid the stereotype bias with cloud computing security issues. If the Central Intelligence Agency safely made the switch to the cloud, chances are so can your company if security is the holdup.
The wariness of the cloud is more justified with regards to control than to security. In essence, you relinquish some degree of control when signing up for a cloud computing service. Your data is now in another company’s grasp, and oftentimes, you lose complete ownership of the data when in a public cloud. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) details the degree of control maintained when using the cloud. Some cloud companies are more selfish, with partial ownership the best that can be done.
Also, not all data can be easily removed from the cloud if your company cancels the monthly/annual payments to the cloud provider. Some companies make extracting your data from the cloud an arduous process when the service is cancelled. If control/ownership is the most important factor regarding your stored data, a public cloud may not be right for your company. Like anxiety surrounding cloud security, proper research can soothe concerns related to control.
Even with research, decreased control is a common drawback for companies considering the switch to the cloud.
The switch to the cloud can minimize costs in several areas.
Less on-premises infrastructure leads to lower power costs, such as air conditioning and electricity. No longer do you need the infamous row of overworked, overheating computers.
No sunk capital costs if you restructure/redirect your company. If you cancel your cloud service, the fees are usually minimal and you have no invested capital to worry about; the main investment with the cloud is the monthly price.
Lowered need for expensive, on-hand IT employees. Just pay the monthly fee for the cloud service, and the rest is taken care of.
If not careful, full cost minimization may not be realized, and your company could fall into the trap of saving money upfront by actually reducing utility. Before concluding that the cloud service is less expensive, ensure that all the benefits you could be getting from in-house infrastructure are included in your cloud plan.
If the service isn’t mentioned, never assume it is incorporated. The cost-savings can be situation dependent; the most cost-efficient outcome for your business may involve partial or no reliance on the cloud. Once again, proper research will ensure your company reaches its cost-minimization potential. After all, cost savings is a common benefit of switching from in-house IT to the cloud.
From the day the cloud computing service is purchased, access and functionality has started. The early installation process is generally handled by the cloud provider, and setup is fairly straightforward. Information on the cloud can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection, so productivity outside the workplace can increase. Unfortunately, this also means that your data’s accessibility rests in the hands of your internet connection.
A slow or unreliable connection would make cloud access a nightmare. The cloud can be advantageous if your internet connection is pristine, but a real drawback if your connection is often slow/faulty.
With the cloud, your business has increased agility/adaptability. Scaling your company is a much simpler process with cloud connectivity. Many PaaS providers specialize in growing your successful applications overnight, the whole time keeping your cloud linked with any on-premises infrastructure.
A monthly fee to your cloud computer remedies the previous need of hiring an IT team to setup the resources necessary to grow/change your business. Think of the cloud as renting a team of lightning-fast IT experts, ready at a moment’s notice to launch your newest product, service, or application. Unlike on-premises infrastructure with a central server, cloud services often have access to multiple servers, so if one server crashes or goes offline, you do not have to halt your work. The cloud company can transfer your connection to another server. However, cloud services are notorious for technical issues. With cloud technology, these technical difficulties are often inescapable.
A real disadvantage to the cloud is that you usually don’t know the site is experiencing difficulties until it crashes or becomes unresponsive. In the long-run, you may have projects and deadlines that are suspended due to technical outages and other problems. Know what your company prioritizes when considering a switch to the cloud, and carefully consider the advantages and drawbacks of each decision.
Cloud services versus on-premises IT infrastructure can be compared to home-schooling versus traditional schooling. Teachers are trained professionals whose job it is to educate, just like cloud companies house trained professionals ready to securely store your data in a way that suits your company best. Don’t “home-school” your data if you don’t have to.
There is a reason why so many companies entrust the cloud – Amazon, Google, Coca Cola, Microsoft, Netflix, and IBM – what is holding your company back? The potential drawbacks to switching to the cloud can usually be neutralized with knowledge of what your company needs and proper research regarding the cloud company. For the right company, the cloud can save time and money with minimal drawbacks.
This article was originally posted by Seamgen, a proud financial sponsor of the ITRC. Seamgen is an industry-leading mobile and digital agency on the forefront of technology—specializing in full-stack development, user experience design, web apps, and mobile apps. For more information on Seamgen or to read more of their content visit their website.