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Capital Outsourcing’s Khalil Harfouche discusses how the approach companies are taking towards cloud adoption has changed.
Ten years ago, hosting applications at a third party data center was something unusual and considered a potential threat to businesses. The main concerns were migration, security and a lack of control over processes and data.
Migration issues are now easily resolved with the use of third-party tools that allow the path from the classic on-site model to the cloud. Minor issues are less frequently encountered and, in most cases, the migration is seamless for the customer.
Security concerns are still the major inhibitor of cloud adoption at many large companies. However, despite the numerous fears, there are very few instances where enterprise data was compromised because it was moved to the cloud.
A panel of practitioners at the recent RSA Security Conference in San Francisco agreed that if cloud providers are vetted properly, most enterprise workloads and data can be safely migrated to cloud environments. Security concerns should not deter enterprises from using public cloud technologies when it makes business sense.
With regards to control, all cloud service providers, both private and public, are adopting advanced provisioning tools that allow customers to control their users as well as their applications and data thanks to a robust reporting system. However, concerns still arise as the data is no longer a physical entity within the customer premises. This is simply a psychological problem and one that can be phased out with time.
These three points are frequently raised as reasons to avoid cloud adoption. But today it is difficult for companies’ executives to find a valid reason to avoid such procedures.
Dependency on the cloud computing provider might represent another threat with regards to its availability. If the provider decides suddenly to stop its service, the customer could experience problems in accessing data and therefore potentially difficulties with regards to business continuity.
On the other hand, some widely used cloud computing services do not include any contract or service level agreement (SLA) between the customer and the cloud computing provider. Therefore a customer does not have anything to refer to if incidents occur or any problems arise. Moreover, cloud computing is a service similar to other more ‘traditional’ services and utilities, such as telecommunications, transaction banking, electricity, gas and water. Both cloud computing services and traditional services and utilities tend to be offered by large providers dealing with smaller customers who consider themselves as not getting the right attention and follow-up.
A solution would be to sign the SLA with all the customers in order to define the responsibilities of each party and consequently to protect them legally. A communication channel with customers can then be immediately established.
Financially, the cloud computing concept has proven to be more cost effective than the classic one. The pay-as-you go model is convenient for most companies, as many feel there is no longer need to invest in hardware and software.
From a technical perspective, companies are looking to eliminate the hassle of daily IT operations and to focus more on their core business. Indeed, outsourcing the IT infrastructure and operation to the ‘experts’ can have a tremendously positive impact on the overall company’s operations.
Moreover, a smart cloud service provider should be able to provide the customer with a solution that answers their needs.
Recently published figures from F5 Networks indicate that only 1% of international companies would reject the idea of implementing or using the cloud. The remaining have either already adopted the cloud or are in the process of migrating their data.
Ten years ago, adopting the cloud computing would be considered as a trend, but now, it is becoming a must!
Khalil Harfouche is general manager at Capital Outsourcing.