As more and more companies choose cloud computing, more and more naysayers will scramble to create cloud horror stories, reasons to stay with on-premise solutions, and cloud myths to scare business owners into “solutions” that will end up costing more than they’re worth.
There are always questions when it comes to new software or programs that promise to save you money, keep your data secure, and so on. Well, just as there are questions, there are answers as well. It’s time to prove these misconceptions about the cloud incorrect. Some of these misconceptions include:
Myth 1: The Cloud is Riskier
Security concerns are the main barrier to cloud adoption, as reflected in the North Bridge survey. When people talk about security threats, they’re usually thinking about hacking, identity theft, malware and phishing schemes. And it isn’t comforting to hear reports like the one on New Year’s Day that hackers had compromised 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers associated with Snapchat accounts.
This could not be farther from the truth. Not only does the cloud protect you from viruses and theft, it can also ensure recovery of your data. Some may assume that the word “cloud” signifies that your data and files are floating around for the world to see – again, not true. The “cloud” basically represents the Internet, which is where you have access to your data and programs when you switch to cloud computing. Contrary to popular belief, this is actually an amazing backup plan. When your information is stored virtually, it is no longer connected to your office devices or network. Therefore, it cannot be harmed by physical disasters or emergencies that may affect your work place. The best thing businesses can do is to have a backup strategy, just in case an outage occurs. In the past, another reason for loss of data was because an organization lost their control over it. For example: How data was stored, shared, secured, etc. The cloud gives you back that control of your data, which means a significantly lower chance for it to be lost in an abyss. Just like anything in life, the cloud is not foolproof. But it is a very safe place for your data. While it may be easier to look at the cloud as unreliable and use that as an excuse to hold off, that just isn’t true. The cloud is the future, and it will keep your information safe.
The key is to assess relative risk. Are local computers, networks and servers better protected than cloud-based assets? In most cases, the answer is no.
Cloud data centers and networks are attractive targets because of the huge numbers of records they hold. But the major cloud service providers can invest far more heavily in security than the average business can, and the average business remains vulnerable. In a 2011 survey, 90 percent of companies said they had been hacked in the previous 12 months. Security experts will tell you that the remaining 10 percent just didn’t realize they’d been hacked.
Myth 2: Cloud Computing is More Expensive
This is also false. Although switching to the cloud may come with slight upfront costs such as installation or migration, in the long run, it will save you a lot of money. Cloud computing is known to reduce IT management costs dramatically.
Look at the costs associated with On-Premise solutions. When you add up the
- cost of management
- software licensing
- storage space
- and everything else that comes with managing your own software…
…You’re looking at a pricey per-year investment.
Moving to the cloud makes it significantly more affordable because not only do you only have to buy a “piece of the pie” instead of the whole pie, but you also move your business model from CapEx to OpEx. More specifically, you simply use infrastructure that a provider purchases and manages, meaning you share resources while avoiding the costs of making these purchases yourself. Most providers also offer a pay-as-you-go plan that bills you based on your usage. Think of it like paying your electricity bill – you use what you need, and that’s all you pay for. This is a great way to control your spending. Avoiding cloud computing is the same concept as hiring someone to make your office’s pens for you when you could just get them at an office supply store; the latter saves time and money, just like the cloud does for your business.
We invite you to read more on how Intacct and Zuora teamed up to bring you a transparent cloud offering.
Myth 3: You Can’t Increase Security
Cloud solutions already offer a high level of security, but just like you can add extra security to a home, the same can easily be done with cloud services. You can use behavior-based key management servers and encryption management keys to give your files an extra layer of protection. Like most things, the quality depends on the provider, which means you have to do your research. Find the provider that can guarantee the security of your corporate data, and ask them what policies and measures they already have implemented. The majority of companies trust the cloud enough to be switching over, as providers have been zeroing in on security over the past couple of years. Typical security measures should include exterior security systems, security guards, digital surveillance and recording and security scanners. Additionally, many cloud solutions can be further customized to fit your specific wants and needs as a business, including security. If you have compliance needs, make sure your provider can meet these standards. If you want additional monitoring and support for your system, just ask. There are numerous ways to boost security, so don’t be fooled by the misconception that it’s limited.
We believe that security is valuable to your organization; especially when the security surrounds your financial management. We invite you to read more about things you should look for in a cloud accounting provider.
Myth 4: Cloud is Unreliable
There have been more than a few news stories about outages affecting the big cloud providers. Pretty much everyone went down at least briefly in 2013, with notable outages at companies including Yahoo, which had problems delivering mail for five days last month; Verizon’s Terremark cloud service, which took down HealthCare.gov for several hours in October; and Amazon.com, which lost millions in sales during a half-hour crash in August.
Businesses that have a backup strategy in place, such as the cloud, prove to be more reliable than other types of infrastructure platforms. With cloud solutions, data can be backed up to multiple locations and services, providing an added level of protection. Again, make sure to do your research. Find a provider that makes it a priority to keep your business up and running (like RapidScale). You need a reliable provider that will go above and beyond to ensure minimal downtime, great security and high efficiency. So maybe you’re wondering, what happens if your business loses connectivity with the cloud? We will automatically send you email updates of critical events that can be picked up from a mobile device, or you can access your information from the nearest location with Internet access. With the cloud, it’s easier than ever to have constant access to the information you need, no matter what happens to your business. With your data stored in the cloud, you can access it from any computing device and any location. So if you can’t get to your office desktop, it’s simple to grab your tablet or laptop and continue working away. This flexible quality of the cloud makes it the most reliable solution.
But what about all the outages that don’t make news? The ones in smaller corporate data centers? Or when your laptop freezes or your PC crashes? Those can be devastating because there isn’t the same level of backup, redundancy and resiliency that cloud providers can offer to contain the damage. Studies by Microsoft and others have confirmed that when businesses shift to the cloud, they see improved service availability.
Myth 5: The Cloud is Just a Fad
Although “the cloud” became a buzzword in popular culture in the past few years, neither the concept nor the technologies underpinning it are all that new. The idea that computing should be organized like a public utility goes as far back as 1961, when computer scientist John McCarthy talked about it at MIT’s centennial celebration. It wasn’t until the Internet matured, however, that the vision became practical. Salesforce.com began to deliver applications through a Web site in 1999, and Amazon (whose owner also owns The Washington Post) launched its cloud-based services in 2002.
What’s changed more recently is the level of investment in the cloud — and that ensures it isn’t going away anytime soon. The research firm Gartner predicts that companies will spend $788 billion on public cloud services in the next four years. And the McKinsey consulting firm forecasts that cloud technology could have an economic impact of $1.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion a year by 2025.
Any organization that relies on web applications like Dropbox, Amazon, Gmail, etc. already uses and relies on cloud computing. Just as the idea of the telephone started with a wire and a dial wheel, the cloud is only beginning its evolution. Migrating to a new technology doesn’t have to be scary and uncertain. More than half of businesses have already implemented the cloud in some way, and many of these are taking it slow. That’s okay! You don’t need to hastily decide, “We’re moving everything to the cloud, today!” Test the waters. See which parts of this new technology fit the needs of your business. It’s a flexible solution that can be customized for your organization, and that’s part of why it’s so amazing. Whether you need improved security, lowered costs, higher efficiency, a backup plan, or a mixture of these benefits, the cloud is the answer. One thing is clear: the cloud is not just a fad. It’s here to stay, and businesses need to decide if they want to keep up with these changes or be left behind. Cloud computing for businesses has turned into a way of life, as well as a secure, cost effective way to manage all of their IT systems in one place. The cloud is now the most advanced and simple way to run a business’ IT environment.
Myth 6: The Cloud Is Bad For The Environment
This myth has been perpetuated by Greenpeace campaigns and stories such as the New York Times’ “cloud factories” series, which stated that the “foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.”
There’s no question that data centers consume huge amounts of energy. But when businesses move from on-site facilities to consolidated cloud data centers, it saves energy and cuts pollution — just as relying on power companies is better for the environment than if everyone had to run their own generator. In one simulation last year, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Northwestern University estimated that if all U.S. companies shifted e-mail, spreadsheets and customer management to the cloud, they would shrink their computing energy footprints by 87 percent. And a 2010 report from Pike Research predicted that cloud computing could cut global data-center energy use by more than a third by 2020.
The major cloud service providers are also trying to be greener. For instance, Apple announced last spring that it had achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all its data centers. Google is coming up with ways to cut energy demand and cool its data centers more efficiently. And Facebook has a Swedish data center that is cooled by Arctic air and powered by hydroelectric sources. Going forward, we can expect cloud providers to reduce their environmental impact even further.
We hope that this report helps to enlighten you to the value and the scale of Cloud Computing. Special thanks to RapidScale Cloud Services and The Washington Post for offering the cloud myths that on-premise sellers and cloud naysayers hold dear.
Altruas is a proud provider of best-in-class financial management software Intacct, a software company that prides itself on security, uptime, transparent cost, and reliability. We welcome you to try Intacct for 30 days, and if you don’t believe it is the best cloud solution for your business, you are free to walk away. Contact us to see more about what you can learn in the cloud.
Still have questions? Contact us.
Altruas is a full-service technology consulting firm focused on providing mid-market and enterprise customers with technology solutions that accelerate their business. We focus on industry leading cloud, ERP and CRM solution implementation and integration. Our strong business acumen and technology capabilities allow us to create long-term relationships with our clients.