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Dispelling the Cloud Computing Myths

While cloud computing has been building, well, “steam” in the IT software industry, skeptics have spread their complaints about it. Much of the cloud computing hype may be unfounded, but the same can be said of the rumors that are floating about. Here are some responses to the most pervasive cloud computing myths.

Myth #1: Cloud computing is riddled with major security and privacy issues.

Security and privacy concerns have been the greatest restraining factor for widespread public use of the cloud. The severity of the risk all depends on the type of provider and how much security is needed. For example, free cloud app providers will sell user information, which is unacceptable to most enterprises.

The key refutation is that cloud providers must learn everything about their services, and thus would provide better security than general, multi-purpose IT technicians at any one company. Additionally, most security breaches occur when employees intentionally compromise the information. It’s more difficult for employees to do this when the data is in the cloud.

Myth #2: Cloud computing is not reliable.

True, free consumer cloud applications are frequently down. However, business cloud applications operate under service level agreements that state the cloud will be up a high percentage of the time. It is possible for public clouds to be up very consistently. For example, Intacct guarantees 99.98% uptime.

Myth #3: Cloud computing isn’t profitable right now – it takes at least three years to break even.

Both Alisdair Faulkner at ThreatMetrix and Dan Druker at Intacct state that it takes about 18 months for a VAR to begin making profits on a cloud application. And once a company goes beyond that point, there certainly is revenue to be had. Ask Amazon, ask how profitable the cloud can be.

Myth #4: Cloud applications are not customizable.

Consumer applications have not been customizable, but that changes for business as it is imperative for business solutions to be tailor-fit to each company. Salesforce Chatter, for example, offers many downloadable additions through its ChatterExchange, a widget store. For customizability, you get what you pay for; free applications won’t give you many options. Though this will be cheaper in the future, cloud applications can be highly personalized for the right price.

Myth #5: Integration is difficult.

Businesses used to hosted applications won’t find integration difficulties. It only depends on the core competencies of those doing the integration. The other challenge is for people who have never used hosted services before to learn how to manage a diverse system of servers.

Myth #6: Switching to cloud applications is simple.

Unfortunately changing to a cloud system has the same difficulties associated with changed to any hosted applications. The business has to keep a close relationship with the provider, and perhaps do staff training to get acclimated to the cloud service.

Myth #7: Cloud computing is only suitable for small businesses.

Cloud applications are not an immature, new sort of development. In some form or another, cloud computing has been around for more than a decade. Cloud computing is sophisticated enough to handle the needs of large enterprises. Cloud app vendors regularly sell to companies of more than 100,000 users. SMBs have been more likely to switch to cloud systems because it’s an easier move for them to make. However, cloud computing has been successful with the large businesses that were willing to make the investment.

[Photo courtesy of bungie.]