Confronting cloud computing fears in the IT sector

There are several factors which seem to be the major driving forces behind most decision-making in the IT world right now, chief among them of course has been (and continues to be) security.  Following closely behind is the notion of capability, or in other words, what one’s IT resources can actually achieve or provide at any given time.  Then of course there’s adaptability, which isn’t usually given priority over seemingly more important and immediate issues like security, for example.  Each of these three areas of concern directly apply to cloud computing of course, and it would seem that adoption (as well as fear) of this technology is largely being driven by them.

So just what is it that’s causing backlash against the cloud in the IT community?  Why is it that we constantly see pointed articles describing a multitude of “apocalyptic” phrases being used to describe what the IT sector will look like once cloud computing takes over?   In truth it would seem that most fears are still stemming from fears emanating out of perceived security risks.  Let’s get one thing straight right now; there haven’t been any large strings of successful attacks against cloud providers yet.  In reality, the security-related fears related to cloud adoption are based on “assumptions” and “possibilities”, nothing more.  Will there be attacks at some point in the future?  Well, yes, most likely; but how is this different from any other time in the past?  It’s time to face the facts, it doesn’t matter what your chosen model of infrastructure is, and someone out there (criminals) is always on the lookout for ways to compromise it.

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Having said that, there have been some major strides made on the cloud security front over the course of the last year of so.  Responding the massive security fears which broke out in late 2010 and 2011, many cloud providers have really stepped up their game, so to speak, and either created new methods of maintaining security or sought the help of 3rd party specialists.  It makes sense if you think about it, hiring a specialist team to handle security.  After all, we’re talking about companies which spend all their time, energy and resources on developing ways of thwarting would-be thieves and hackers.  The simple fact of the matter is that it’s simply not possible for most businesses to create a separate and massively funded area within their IT sphere which is devoted solely to security.  Likewise, the great thing about cloud computing (and the top-tier providers) is that you’re gaining direct access to world-class, up-to-date methodologies when you sign up for a package.  Simply put, there aren’t many companies which would even be able to hire the experts needed to create a solid security strategy.

Then there’s the notion of “capabilities” and how moving toward an entirely cloud-based approach might improve or degrade your assets.  If you’ve spent any amount of time really researching what cloud computing can do you should already be aware of the vast resources and near-infinite stream of applications which are out there.  In all reality a traditional approach to IT is more or less vastly inferior to that of the cloud.  Now, does this mean that your conventional IT program is useless? Absolutely not, the implication here is that you can do everything you were able to do before only with a thousand or more extra “perks” tacked on.  At the same time, it’s often much more economical to go with a cloud provider than to pony up all the capital and on-site labor needed to run a large IT operation.  When you really step back and look at the big picture, you’ll see that many businesses are looking at the economic benefits associated with moving to the cloud and deciding to take the plunge; this is especially true when you consider the current global economic climate.

Finally, there’s the idea of adaptability; specifically, how bringing cloud-based elements into the fold might affect the way things are currently being done or how the organization might be able to meet future challenges.  In all honesty, adopting cloud computing doesn’t necessarily mean that every aspect of your IT department will radically change.  In fact, many businesses elect to make small changes and forays into cloud computing before actually throwing everything into it.  In short, there are “hybrid” approaches to combining your conventional IT resources with additional cloud components which should be considered.  In other words, when it comes time to begin adding cloud services, you should feel like you’re gaining abilities as opposed to losing control.

Lastly, there’s the idea being circulated that “if my organization doesn’t adopt cloud computing we’ll be left behind”.  This is a genuine concern that most IT professionals should take into consideration; after all, the increased capabilities, speed, and economic benefits of cloud computing are very powerful and will mostly likely be adopted by your competitors at some point.  Moreover, every business (as well as IT worker) should explore cloud computing certification as it’s a very cost-effective way of making sure that you’re utilizing the technology correctly.  Additionally, IT pros will find that they are much more “employable” when they have some form of cloud certification.

Should you fear the cloud or embrace it?  The answer to that question is going to largely depend on your point-of-view and adaptability.   There have been some gigantic moves in the cloud computing world recently and all signs point toward it becoming more of a permanent fixture (or replacing the current model entirely).  The bottom line is that if you want to make an impact or take advantage of this emerging potential here you’re probably going to have to move past your fears and take a chance on cloud computing.  In this particular situation it wouldn’t be untruthful to say that the gains seem to far outweigh the potential losses.

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