Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Computing in 2017
2016 was a tumultuous year, to say the least.
It had it’s ups and downs, but despite the loss of many beloved celebrity figures, 2016 was actually a good year in retrospect. Cloud Computing has also had it’s ups and downs as well—with some serious data breaches hitting the news—but ultimately the cloud came out the other side bigger and stronger than ever before. In fact, the cloud has grown so much, it’s now only a quarter as popular (as a Google search term) then it was in 2012 – and that’s great!
That means the cloud is no longer ‘on the horizon.’ It’s no longer in the early adopter stage – It’s well established and here to stay. Once the purview of large corporations and conglomerates, the cloud has reached a new level of democratisation where businesses of all sizes can now benefit from it. That’s because it’s passed the initial years of hype and has seen greater adoption as the de facto IT solution for businesses.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at the cloud and break it down into 3 key areas; security, access and productivity. We’ll then detail the advantages and disadvantages of these key areas of the cloud, compared to onsite infrastructure.
So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in.
Security in the Cloud
One of, if not the biggest roadblock to cloud adoption is security. There’s a perception that if you can see something, it’s inherently more secure than something you cannot see. It’s instinct. Therefore, a lot of people think that their in-house infrastructure is more secure than the cloud, solely based on the fact that it’s sat in the corner of the office or in the room down the hall, opposed to residing in a hyper-secure, purpose-built data centre. Remember, invisible doesn’t mean insecure. There are many other benefits of using the cloud other than getting to house your infrastructure in state-of-the-art datacentres, for a fraction of the cost of ownership.
Sometimes, however, the cloud just isn’t right for every solution. Below we’ve listed the advantages and disadvantages of data security in the cloud.
- There are two critical areas to data security the cloud excels at; resiliency and privacy.
- Focus on the security of your applications, and let cloud provider secure the infrastructure.
- No data is stored locally, meaning it’s safe in the event of device loss or theft.
- Cloud vendors invest much more time and money into securing their systems than most companies are able to do themselves.
- The cloud reduces the potential points of intrusion by locking everything behind specific, secure access points.
- Access points can be locked down with various mature authentication tools in a matter of a few clicks. If replicated on-premise, these tools would require large investments in infrastructure and staff, to implement and maintain them.
- A shift in terms of accountability, with the provider taking on the burden. Although this is a benefit, you need trust with your cloud provider and clearly define procedures to ensure security.
- Accessing data over an Internet connection means you won’t be able to meet certain regulatory requirements, no matter how secure the solution is.
Access to the Cloud
Access is a hot topic when it comes to the cloud. Who should be given access to what in the cloud, and how is this moderated? How can a business access the cloud and when should they? But, the discussion isn’t just focussed on access into the cloud. There’s also a lot of debate about leaving the cloud too.
There’s a perception that once you enter the cloud, you’re trapped inside a walled garden – never to leave again. This is simply not true. What businesses need to know however is that leaving the cloud isn’t a cakewalk, depending on how you’re using the cloud. If you use the cloud purely as a storage platform, you can request your data to be sent via hard drive/s from most vendors – although this may incur a cost. If you’re more dependent on the Cloud, however, you’ll require the work of a skilled technician to migrate you back to on-premise infrastructure. The kind of skilled technician you’d need to maintain your on-premise infrastructure in the first place.
The best thing to do before opting for the cloud is to do your research first – speak to vendors about the systems they have in place for leaving their cloud solution. This kind of preliminary research may actually help you to eliminate inadequate vendors from the selection process, saving you from headaches down the road.
Below, you’ll find all of the advantages and disadvantages of the cloud when it comes to data access.
- If you have an Internet connection, you can always access your work. Always connected.
- Protects from theft, fire, damage and human error.
- Remote workers don’t need slow and complicated VPN connection.
- Use any device, anywhere, anytime.
- Always need an Internet connection unless you have everything duplicated offline, like with the ‘SmartStac Store’ function on Synextra’s Hosted Desktop.
- Although incredibly secure, the cloud can be accessed from the public web, which means greater end-point security is needed (compared to an isolated network.)
Productivity in the Cloud
Downtime is the bane of all businesses. It’s the blockade to productivity. If your IT goes down, a large proportion—if not all—of your staff will be unable to work. If a server falls over or an application should crash, staff can’t work. Traditionally, your IT manager/IT team/that one person who’s tech-savvy would try and resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Alternatively, you would have to call your IT support company to fix the issue. That would require them diagnosing the issue, before talking you through the recovery process or even coming out to site. Both of these are inefficient, slow and often times costly.
And if the worst should happen (maybe Simon spills a brew all over the server) then you would be out of action until a new server was setup. This could take days and would cost thousands of pounds to replace.
With the Cloud, however, should a server go down, your instance would switch over to a failover server (if your cloud provider follows good backup practices.) This is something that cannot be replicated on-premise without buying double the hardware you currently have.
- Vendor handles maintenance, management and updates.
- SLA agreement guarantees uptime or at least compensation.
- You’re not only sharing the physical resources (servers, networking etc) but you’re also sharing the engineer’s time with other customers too. You want to make sure your vendor has enough staff to cope with demand, so you’re never left in the dark for too long.
Although there are many different implementations of the cloud and hundreds of different scenarios it can be used in; security, access and time are three of the biggest hurdles businesses face with IT on a daily basis. If the advantages of the cloud lineup with your business’ IT needs, now is the time to start looking at the cloud in a serious manner.
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