The private sector is constantly changing, driven by the ongoing use of legacy and emerging technologies in and outside of the workplace. A number of advanced IT services are making their way into the business world and are leaving quite a mark on how organizations operate on a daily basis. Yet some technologies hold more weight than others, and cloud computing is widely considered to be among the heaviest.
The cloud is not necessarily new, as it has been around for several years. In 2012, however, decision-makers began taking a more inquisitive look into hosted services to see whether using the solutions would truly provide any benefits for the particular company. In most cases, using the cloud improved operations, consolidated resources and reduced maintenance expenses. This encouraged more organizations around the globe to implement the technology.
In 2013, both small businesses and enterprises will continue their pursuit of the perfect cloud. To ensure executives take the right steps on their march to the cloud, they need to be sure not to fall into the pitfalls that appeared in 2012 and slowed adoption rates. This was highlighted in a recent InfoWorld report by IT expert David Linthicum.
Get a better definition of the cloud and its capabilities
Despite the cloud gaining significant momentum in the private sector last year, many IT executives had a poor understanding of the technology and often fell victim to "cloud washing," Linthicum asserted. This happened when service providers took advantage of the misunderstandings shrouding the cloud industry and offered companies solutions that didn't have any of the cloud's true characteristics, including its elasticity, self-provisioning or on-demand use.
Going into 2013, decision-makers need to do a little homework and have a firm grasp on what the cloud is and how the services can provide benefits specific to their company. In 2012, executives unsure of the precise definition of the cloud thought anything and everything IT related could and should be migrated to the hosted environment, Linthicum noted. Unfortunately, this led to a number of performance, security and governance problems as IT departments lost track of what solutions were where and who was using them.
A similar study by Citrix revealed similar findings, noting that many Americans are unfamiliar with the intricate details of the cloud. In fact, roughly 54 percent of people said they never use the cloud, though 95 percent of respondents actually use it on a daily basis.
"This survey clearly shows that the cloud phenomenon is taking root in our mainstream culture, yet there is still a wide gap between the perceptions and realities of cloud computing," said Kim DeCarlis, vice president of corporate marketing at Citrix. "While significant market changes like this take time, the transition from the PC era to the cloud era is happening at a remarkable pace."
In reality, not all applications are meant for the cloud, as some perform better on-site and under the constant supervision of internal IT teams, Linthicum asserted. For solutions that can function well in the cloud, decision-makers should consider using advanced application release automation software to package and distribute tools throughout the creation process and place them into multiple environments without impairing performance or driving costs up.
Keep security, performance and management in mind
Cloud security is often cited as the top inhibitor to cloud use, though this doesn't have to be case. If decision-makers take the right steps, implement the appropriate technologies and follow a set of best practices, cloud-based environments can be even more safe than traditional on-site databases.
Linthicum said information and applications stored in public and private clouds are as secure as IT executives make them. Organizations deploying the cloud should consider leveraging advanced monitoring solutions, data replication tools and security services to ensure mission-critical assets hosted in the environments are not jeopardized due to poor management.
A separate report by BankInfoSecurity also highlighted that the cloud's true security capabilities derive from the steps taken by decision-makers.
"A good starting point for companies is to look at the cloud and make sure that they have at least the same levels of controls around the information in the cloud as they do with the information in their own environments," security expert Francis deSouza told BankInfoSecurity.
As the cloud computing industry continues to garner attention and gain momentum in 2013, taking the proper preemptive steps and planning ahead can make migration to the cloud much less complicated, resulting in more positive outcomes. Decision-makers that blindly jump into the cloud, on the other hand, will likely experience a multitude of management and performance problems.
Forward-thinking executives must look back on 2012 and learn from the private sector's mistakes. Neglecting to do so will only result in troubled cloud implementation projects in 2013.