Despite how prevalent cloud services have become in both business culture and the lives of consumers, many misconceptions still exist about the nature of the cloud, how it works and what it can accomplish. The focal point and scope of these misunderstandings can range widely, from failing to grasp exactly what cloud computing means to holding onto hearsay that suggests the cloud isn't secure. False or unclear notions about the cloud can have real implications, as they can hold companies back from adopting the technology and thus prevent them from enjoying the same benefits as cloud-powered competitors.
If you're deciding whether or not cloud hosting is right for your small or mid-sized business, you probably already have a general comprehension of the technology, and any misunderstandings that remain in your organization pertain to finer details rather than fundamental concepts. Here are three topic areas where misconceptions still persist among many companies considering the cloud - and reasons why your SMB shouldn't hold onto these notions.
Jason Cumberland, vice president for Dimension Data, recently spoke with ZDNet about some of the wrongheaded reservations that keep companies from cloud adoption. One of the main misunderstandings, he pointed out, lies in the concern that the shared architecture of public cloud services will result in hampered application performance. This idea fails to take the full picture into consideration and relies on a too-limited conception of the comparative advantages of virtualized and physical infrastructure.
"Virtual machines ... cost considerably less, come with no long-term commitments and allow for automation of operations in ways that are significantly more difficult when relying on physical machines," Cumberland told the news source.
Hosting your SMB's key applications on a provider's cloud servers is unlikely to produce any measurable decrease in performance. In fact, because the vendor possesses more infrastructure than you could maintain in-house, you may find that a switch to the cloud means your business can actually utilize more sophisticated, higher-performing applications than it once did.
The competitive pricing and lower overhead expenses of the cloud are among its key attractions, but some naysayers remain skeptical of the flexible, pay-as-you-go pricing model that accompanies hosted infrastructure. Cumberland noted that many financial decision-makers are more comfortable with a fixed-cost investment rather than a recurring expense that may go up or down based on usage. But this idea, too, is shortsighted.
"In a recurring revenue business, delaying delivery on an environment/implementation means losing revenue you will never recover. Even in non-recurring revenue models, cutting delivery time means improving cash flow. Delaying order delivery because of lack of infrastructure is a hidden cost often not accounted for when comparing legacy infrastructure to cloud," Cumberland told ZDNet.
Cumberland's comments highlight the central financial advantage of cloud computing: You pay for what you use, nothing more. With on-site data centers, at least some capacity is always unused, or there isn't enough infrastructure to meet performance and/or capacity demands. The cloud negates this risk, helping you ensure that your business is not investing time, money and space into needless servers on the one hand nor under-delivering to your end-users on the other.
Cloud security remains a point of misconception for many business leaders, who rightly want to ensure that their data is safe from loss or unwanted access but don't see how this is possible when outsourcing storage to a third-party vendor. This attitude, however, is growing increasingly rare. Many companies, especially SMBs, are realizing that cloud environments are often more secure than the infrastructure they can maintain in-house, because the provider has more resources to devote to security than the business itself does. With a trusted vendor, you can go into your SMB's cloud implementation with full confidence that you're not compromising but enhancing security.