Top 4 myths of cloud computing

Are you thinking about the cloud for your IT? How about just for your e-mails or files? Are you considering putting your entire network in the cloud?

The demand for cloud computing is growing at an unprecedented rate. Gartner predicts the cloud market will be over the $148 Billion mark by 2014. Its economies of scale and ability to deliver large enterprise applications to medium and small businesses continue to generate new consumers across industries. However, cloud vendors often aren’t sharing the full story with prospects. Below are the top four myths of cloud computing.

Myth No. 1: “By putting all of my data and applications in the cloud, I no longer need to worry about IT.”

Nope. Cloud computing is not synonymous with responsibility free. You still need to maintain your internal network infrastructure; in fact, this infrastructure becomes even more important in a cloud scenario. After all, you must have operating workstations or thin clients to access the data and your local connections must support that access. Connectivity to the Internet becomes paramount because all your productivity hinges on that connection; as such, redundant bandwidth and a failsafe Internet access option are requirements. In addition, your switches, routers, and cabling need to be able to handle this new computing model.

Myth No. 2: “Cloud computing will eliminate my need for a full-time IT professional or outside consultant.”

Wishful Thinking. Although a cloud computing model greatly diminishes the need for full time, on-site IT support, it doesn’t erase it. You still need some sort of on-site IT presence so that your employees can illustrate challenges in person. There also needs to be some sort of readily-accessible support with your hosted solutions provider. In fact, this is one of the key items you must discuss when negotiating your support terms with your cloud vendor.

Myth No. 3: “I never have to replace my workstations if all my applications are delivered through the cloud.”

Not Quite. Although it is true that workstations can last longer if your desktop is being delivered over the cloud, this doesn’t mean that workstations can be ignored—or used forever. In fact, workstation maintenance—patches, antivirus, and antimalware deployment—becomes a priority because employees need a “clean” workstation from which to access the hosted services. If not, organizations run the risk of having malware erode the all-important bandwidth. And, if the idea is to switch to thin clients, that still does cost some money (although not as much as a workstation).

Myth No. 4: “The cloud is cheaper.”

Really Depends. Although the cloud computing model can help you save some money on purchasing computer equipment and software, you must consider the real cost of the cloud solution(s) you are considering. Use a 3-5 year time horizon and be sure to catch all the little add-ons (like fees for extra storage space, or extra Internet access that you will need). Factor in the cost of administration, customization, and training. Investigate the level of personal service provided with any cloud solution you are considering; be sure to ask about emergency scenarios and off-hours support. The higher the level of service, the higher the cost. While cloud computing can be less expensive and a solid alternative to traditional IT models, you must be clear about what you are paying for—and what you are getting.

Your organization must maintain ownership of the IT function, even if you are choosing to no longer house your data or your applications. Although the cloud can do lots of things, it can’t think strategically. All organizations still need someone to think strategically about the direction of their business’s technology. And, as with any strategic operating shift in an organization, leadership must evaluate the benefits and risks—and ask the right questions before moving forward

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