Who hasn’t heard a few cloud myths over the past few years? As cloud computing has moved from obscurity to buzzword to business necessity in the past decade and a half, debates have moved from “Is the cloud just a fad?” to the dilemma faced by organization choosing between cloud and on-premise to the debate in the cloud—public vs. private.
Defining Public and Private Clouds
The public and private cloud debate starts with information.
The most recognizable model of cloud computing is the public cloud. Used by services like Salesforce.com, Intacct, Google Apps and Amazon Web Services; the public cloud consists of shared resources accessible over any internet connection. According to a 2014 EMC cloud adoption study, 24% of enterprises are currently using or implementing public cloud services.
Public clouds are owned and operated by third-party service providers, who are responsible for the security, maintenance, and meeting promises of uptime.
The private cloud model is, for simple purposes, a cloud for a single company. Either hosted on-premises or through external service providers, private clouds are essentially an extension of a traditional data center. According to Akamai, “Private” refers more to the fact that this type of platform is a non-shared resource than to any security advantage. At the moment, roughly 36% of enterprises use the private cloud model, this again from the EMC study.
Myths about the Public Cloud Model
As succinctly stated by Information Week, “The public cloud model collides with 60 years of conventional IT wisdom and behaviors.”
How often has something “challenged conventional wisdom and behavior”? Even if the origin of the following quote attributed to Henry Ford is debated, the “faster horse” quote holds true. When Ford popularized and made more efficient the production of the automobile, he was challenging nearly 4,000 years of conventional wisdom and behaviors.
Of course, when you innovate, you will have naysayers.
Therefore, those promoting on-premise, private cloud, or a choice between the two will be sure to bring up a few selling points against the public cloud.
Myth #1: Privacy
Privacy concerns within the cloud model are nothing new, and privacy concerns in the public cloud are assuredly played up by the media, and some vendors will stop at nothing to try to drive them home.
Even with extensive regulations, this still poses a concern among enterprises. The uninformed cloud buyer may even think that once you’re on the cloud, anyone can access financial information. This would be similar to thinking that if you live in an apartment, anyone that lives in said apartment can walk in at any time.
Using this apartment reference, let’s put the public cloud into perspective. Your apartment shares a building with other apartments. Access between the apartments is impossible, and you will never see your neighbor.
Even within your own company, there are limits set up. Again using the apartment reference, let’s say you invite a few people you know and trust into this apartment. They can only stay in the living room, unless they have authentication to access any other room. The same goes for financial management in the public cloud.
There’s no sullying of data or intermingling of users. Simple as that.
Myth #2: Security
Many companies are uneasy about moving to the public cloud since that means taking data and putting it into the hands of a third party. If a vendor lacks sufficient security measures, which means the company’s data could be put at risk.
Alleviating these concerns usually comes down to picking the right provider, so when making a decision, businesses should ask what security features a vendor has at hand.
Let’s turn the tables. In implementing a private cloud, can you afford to employ Fortune 100-class data centers, monitored 24/7/365 by highly-trained guards? Can you afford redundant, uninterruptable power supplies that guarantee your company will lose no more than two hours of work? How about providing the accessibility promised by public cloud, with extensive application security? Can your hosting company provide this?
To do so, as an expanding enterprise, would be detrimental to growth due to the costs associated with these measures. A public cloud provider relies on its ability to provide unmatchable protection to every company it serves.
Finally, in a 2014 Everest Group survey, enterprises are showing less interest in the public vs. private debate in terms of security. The emerging belief is that with public cloud providers enhancing security measures, the deployment model will become less and less of a concern in coming years.
A Gartner Analyst’s View on Private Clouds
With 29 years in the IT industry, and 18 years at Gartner, Thomas J. Bittman seems to have a grasp on the marketplace. In his article, “Why are Private Clouds Failing,” he shares the following reasons companies have seen inefficiencies and downfalls in the private cloud:
- Focusing Exclusively on Operational Benefits:Thinking private cloud is an internal IT project only.
- Building the Wrong Expectations – or None At All:Business case and metrics are key.
- Defending IT:Building “private cloud” to protect IT’s turf.
- Doing Too Little:Often, private cloud really means virtualization, with maybe some automation
- Doing Too Much:Putting in everything including the kitchen sink. Optimized for everything, so it is optimized for nothing.
- Focusing Strictly on Infrastructure:VMs are not enough – something’s got to run inside them.
- Failure to Change the Operational Model:Jamming cloud into your existing process model and org structure ain’t gonna work.
- Failure to Focus on People:Your staff can be your biggest supporters, or your biggest roadblocks. Google the possible etymology of the word “sabotage.”
- Failure to Change the Funding Model:When you build a drive-thru service model, you better get paid first.
- Using the Wrong Technologies:Choices, choices – what’s tactically right might be strategically wrong.
It All Comes Down to the Right Partner
No matter what, studies show that the right technology partner is the key to success. Whether mentioned by the Cloud Accounting Institute, finding that the support and implementation assistance ranks number 1, or the previously mentioned Everest Group survey, which found that 65% of respondents believe they need external help, partnering with a leader is the answer companies are looking for.
So, if you are looking for a partner who will help you through the process of selecting, implementing, and managing software; and a software that will undoubtedly improve your financial management, the answers are Trustantial and Intacct, respectively. Contact us today.