Why is cloud computing not being taken up? Why is there such a huge gap between the take-up of cloud as a technology and the volume of column inches (if we can still talk about such things in the online age)?
There's often little discussion as to what the issues are that are preventing widescale adoption - the one that's mentioned the most is security, But that, in many ways, seems strange as cloud computing organisations are often very well geared up to meet the most stringent demands.
Now, an excellent paper from The Burton Group has laid out the problems faced by organisations going down the cloud route. The Dark SIde of Cloud Computing by Drue Reeves and Jack Santos has set out very clearly the key inhibitors: the authors have identified five key areas IT governance; vendor outage,vendor lock-in, compliance and, naturally, security. It's one of the clearest examinations of the pitfalls of the cloud approach that I've seen so far - what's most impressive is that it recognises that cloud is a valid business approach and, indeed, is already being widely used in businesses today.
It's notable that while much of the attention on cloud has concentrated on security, the Burton report takes a wider brief. This has to be right - there's been a knee-jerk reaction to the problems of the cloud and while I don't doubt that it's true that many user organisations consider the security implications of moving to the cloud, - although there have been some signs that managers are changing their beliefs on this.
What the Burton report examines is that some of the problems with cloud are as due to problems with the implementation as much as with the technology itself. In particular, the disconnect between IT and business managers could cause some of the underlying difficulties.
As the report says, "The first driver is business leaders who feel that cloud represents another option—other than IT—to address business issues. The second is IT leaders who see the potential of cloud technology and in haste can inadvertently overlook business implications to adoption.Both motivations need to be evaluated in the context of business strategy. Both can put the organisation at risk.
This dynamic is sometimes forgotten. Cloud is not just about technology and it's not just about business - it's a combination of the two and if a business is to move to a total cloud environment, the options need to be weighed carefully.
That's not to say that the technical issues should be ignored: security clearly is something to be considered and, in Europe especially, managers will want to know where data is being held to conform to privacy regulations. And there's the question of cloud standards and provider lock-in to consider too.
But the company that takes a serious look at these will be on a winner, as the Burton report concludes "There is no question that many aspects of cloud computing are effectively being used within many organisations, sometimes unwittingly. Awareness of these key pitfalls is paramount in being successful with your organisation’s approach to cloud computing." The old proverb of being forewarned to being forearmed has never been more appropriate.
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