IT, Finance and other parts of the organization don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to the cloud – and even IT can sometimes be wrong about cloud computing. Here are some key questions organizations need to ask before making a decision about the cloud.
Regardless of the differing opinions about cloud computing, there are some things nearly all observers can agree on: The cloud can have benefits for businesses, but it can also introduce new risks.
The key to maximizing the good while minimizing the bad: proper planning.
That requires all decision makers to let go of their preconceptions and look at the facts. Here are some key questions organizations need to answer when developing a cloud computing strategy:
Are cloud computing security concerns overblown?
When companies discuss whether or not to switch to a cloud computing service, the first argument against the cloud is often about data security. Many IT departments and other groups are concerned about cloud computing security and prefer to keep sensitive data in-house.
IT has good reasons for those concerns. Cloud computing services often face less scrutiny than in-house systems and many organizations feel more confident they’ll be able to prevent breaches on their own networks than that a third party will properly protect their information.
But in reality, how justified are those worries about cloud computing security? According to one recent poll, the concerns might be overblown. Among healthcare providers not currently using cloud computing services, 66% said security was their biggest concern about moving to the cloud, according to a recent report from healthcare research firm KLAS. That was the top concern of survey respondents by a significant margin.
However, respondents that had switched to cloud computing gave their vendors, on average, a score of 4.5 out of 5 when asked to rate their security.
The bottom line: Some cloud computing deployments aren’t very secure, just as some in-house networks contain a lot of security vulnerabilities.
M any of the risks can be mitigated if the organization has a plan to address cloud computing security. Some key steps:
- Make sure IT is involved in all cloud computing decisions
- Have a policy against rogue cloud computing deployments
- Thoroughly vet all cloud computing providers, and
- Make sure cloud computing contracts address IT security.
Will cloud computing save money?
One of the main reasons IT and Finance departments are looking at cloud computing services: the potential for cutting the IT budget.
But while it’s true the cloud has the potential to offer cost savings, there are plenty of hidden costs involved with cloud computing that can lessen the impact or even increase total spending.
In fact, 33% of organizations say their cloud computing projects have cost more than they’d initially planned for, according to a survey of 650 senior executives conducted by consulting firm KPMG International.
Some of the biggest challenges that have made cloud adoption more difficult and time consuming than companies predicted for the companies in the report include:
- 31% said integrating cloud services with existing architecture was difficult
- 30% said avoiding data loss and protecting privacy was a challenge
- 30% were concerned about losing control over their IT infrastructure, and
- 26% said there is a lack of standards and interoperability between cloud computing providers.
What it means for IT and the rest of the organization: Cloud computing isn’t a magic bullet that will cut costs automatically and make every business more efficient and agile. Companies need to diligently plan their cloud strategies and add up the costs of everything involved to determine whether moving to the cloud makes financial sense.
How long can the company stick with a cloud computing provider?
Of course, once the company chooses a cloud computing provider, that doesn’t mean all the strategic planning is finished.
The company needs to continue to monitor for security issues, as well as make sure the service is performing as advertised. That’s especially true since, unfortunately, in many cases they aren’t.
More than half (52%) of companies currently using a cloud-based CRM system were willing to switch vendors after six months with their current supplier, according to a recent survey from Nucleus Research.
The problem is that as cloud computing has become more popular, cloud providers have become more aggressive in their marketing and many companies jumped into cloud contracts without doing enough planning.
The lesson: As the survey results show, it’s common for cloud services to fail to live up to companies’ expectations. That’s why it’s important to continue doing diligence to determine the best options for the organization, even after a provider is chosen.