friday-rant
Cloud Computing

Eight big problems with cloud computing

I’m not going to go so far as to mimic the words of the old Edwin Starr song War and ask rhetorically, ‘Cloud, what is it good for?’ before answering ‘Absolutely nothing.’

That is clearly not the case but I would have no problem suggesting that in several ways cloud is yet another case of the IT industry over-promising silver bullets and under-delivering on several counts.

Let’s examine a few of the areas where cloud is patchy.

 

Bandwidth. Cloud needs network connectivity like human beings need oxygen. If, as is the case even in parts of many large cities, links are patchy, slow or unreliable, cloud services suffer. Cloud is sold on the back of “ubiquitous” connectivity; in fact, connectivity is anything but ubiquitous.

Performance. When networks are slow or over-utilised, performance can be, quite literally, a drag. Use Microsoft Word from your hard drive and it’s slick… then use the Google word-processor on a slow connection – it’s virtually unusable as your keyboard sprints ahead of your cursor.

Features. Cloud application vendors say you don’t need all those extra features and often deliver ‘diet’ versions of applications that leave users scratching around for functions they want.

Exception handling. As with the features, vendors say you’re better off leaving the application to show you how to institute best-practice workflow rather than tweaking it. Try telling that to an ERP customer who has very good reasons for customising or doing something differently to rivals for competitive or other reasons.

Governance. Sometimes there are very good reasons for not letting cloud vendors process and store your data where they prefer to. Look what’s happened with Safe Harbor and the fall-out from the Edward Snowden affair. That’s why companies like Egnyte are thriving by offering hybrid on-premises software as well as cloud services.

Security. We all know that surveillance authorities read all our stuff in the cloud and there’s plenty of scope for vendors to do the same. Cloud might actually be more secure than on-premises IT but cloud vendors offer an enticing honey pot to the bad guys.

Costs. Cloud starts out cheap and becomes very expensive once you have paid years of subscriptions and added various bells and whistles. Also, there are cases where capital expenditure is preferable to the operating expenditure that cloud advocates seem to view as always superior.

People. Nobody likes to say this but one of the dirty secrets of cloud is the ability to get rid of employees. Those are the same human assets that can bring insight, sense and experience to the handling of your enterprise.

 

Cloud computing is very useful when you have to act fast because the business is falling apart at the seams or a regulator tells you to act now or suffer the consequences. But very often it’s a tactical solution that can blind decision-makers to the value of fast, highly available, well-managed internal infrastructure that supports competitive differentiation. The hype for cloud is loud but it shouldn’t deafen us from making smart independent decisions.

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Torquemada

Torquemada, not his real name, has been casting a jaundiced eye on the technology world since the Sinclair C5 was causing as much excitement as the driverless car today, a 64K RAM pack could turbocharge performance, and Alan Sugar was the equivalent of Elon Musk.

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