Cloud computing is a popular storage method that is quickly becoming the preferred choice of many people. While many love the ability to reduce operational costs and increase IT effectiveness, cloud computing is not for everyone. There are some reasons to be careful.
1. Security is still unreliable as systems are not well developed and currently need special expertise. Your data could be vulnerable to hacking.
2. Cloud computing is still not ready for prime time. There are many developmental bugs and user parameters that need to be clarified. Regulations around safe storage and risk management issues are still undefined. You can research the risk management practice of the company you are dealing with, but no decision to store in the cloud should be made prior to that.
3. No basic standards have been developed for cloud computing. This means that if you moved all your data and functions to a particular provider, but then needed to move to a new host, you would likely have to re-migrate all the applications or spend time in customization.
4. You are dependent on the cloud provider for your resources. Should these be interrupted or experience outages, you are vulnerable. The cloud-based Gmail, for example, has experienced a number of outages. System breakdown because of network problems could even result in complete data loss, and there is no guarantee that it could be retrieved.
5. Many of the companies offering the cloud do it as a sideline to a main business. If they decide one day that it is no longer viable, or abruptly discontinue the service, which has happened with even high-profile providers such as Google. Even with using Dell or HP coupons for new servers, you could face significant cost in time and resources to retrieve and re-migrate your data back in house.
6. Issues of risk. Laws and regulations govern each industry with regard to data. For example, in healthcare there are specific requirements for data handling due to privacy concerns. For certain businesses, it is not acceptable to store data in a location outside the physical boundaries of the company. These issues have not been resolved regarding cloud computing.
7. Your IT staff needs retraining and a shift in thinking and approach. There will be a transition from a system of monitoring hardware to one where IT staff are monitoring software. Rather than providing direct troubleshooting solutions, they will need to be able to work with another company – which could be even more problematic if security issues are involved.
Cloud computing may be the next big thing in data storage, but there are a number of concerns that still need to be resolved before customers can really be confident that cloud computing companies are capable of maintaining sustainability in the long range.
Is cloud computing worth the risk? Depending on the nature of your data and your business, it may not be.
About the author: Deb Johnson is a database administrator and a freelance writer with 20 years’ experience. She also cooks, plays violin, and enjoys traveling the world.