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Cloudbusting


October 20, 2014 - 0 Comments

In the same year Cisco was founded, Kate Bush recorded the hypnotic Cloudbusting, one of her most iconic songs and music videos.  Conceived by Terry Gilliam and featuring Donald Sutherland, there is a strikingly poignant moment in the video where Bush’s character is ‘cloudbusting’ with her father and she first realizes that adults are fallible.

Cloud Myth Busting

It is healthy to recognize that we are fallible, especially when we work in such a rapidly evolving industry packed with innovation. Myths and misconceptions abound. Even the well-informed need to be kept in check sometimes!

At a recent industry event, I was chatting with a group of people from across the IT industry and with diverse views on cloud. We ended up discussing our thoughts on the various myths we’d heard. Eventually, we agreed on a Top 5 list of those we’d bust if we had a cloud myth busting machine of our own.

Myth 1:  Cloud Saves Money

We all agree that many people think saving money is the biggest benefit of the cloud – Yes, you can save money, but we all felt that you can use the cloud to help drive better overall TCO for IT.  We talked more about how:

  • Cloud can provide financial elasticity through Capex/Opex fluidity
  • Cloud allows you to increase agility and scalability through a more flexible deployment model
  • Cloud can help drive a business forward.

Busted1Forbes Insights surveyed more than 500 executives to see what drives their use of the cloud for collaboration services.  A key finding of the research:  Organizations that have already embraced cloud-based collaboration technologies tend to overwhelmingly see quicker returns on their investments in the form of greater innovation and greater internal efficiencies.

Myth 2:  Cloud Has The Midas Touch

As we saw with the word eco-, adding cloud or as-a-Service to a solution’s name sets an expectation that the technology can’t always provide. This phenomenon (call it cloudwashing) generally overestimates the benefits the technology can provide. We all agreed that moving to the cloud isn’t the end goal; the real goal is making a positive impact on the business.  We all felt that it was important to pick workloads that:

  • Suit the cloud
  • Have an intrinsic benefit of being consumed from the cloud
  • Offer the features and benefits of a cloud-based delivery model, such as pay-per-use, virtualized infrastructure, user self-provisioning, and others

Busted1The best way to keep expectations real is to see what other organizations have done and the benefits they’ve gained. You can read about the experiences of several customers that replaced on-premises communications systems with a secure Cisco Powered cloud service based on Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS). A white paper from Current Analysis describes how cloud collaboration drives business value across  industries.

Myth 3:  There Is One Uber Cloud

We keep hearing “It’s in the cloud”, as if there is one big cloud out there that holds all the services, and all the data.  Clearly this is not the case, but a little like the early days of the Internet, many think that the cloud is just ‘out there’.  In fact we live in a world of many clouds, an interconnection of clouds.   It is complicated and contains many levels (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS), models, and providers, but it also gives us many, varied and useful applications and services.

Busted1We all agree that having a ‘one cloud’ strategy doesn’t work.  To maximize the benefits that the cloud offers it is best to keep your options open and look broadly at which clouds may suit your business and how to best take advantage of them.  One of my previous posts describes the journey to the cloud and may help you think about how to make that journey as smooth as possible.  We also all agree that a good strategy is to avoid compromise and to look at solutions that are interoperable, not standardized.

Myth 4:  The Cloud Is Not Secure

Most security perceptions are founded on fear, rather than fact.  To date, most security breaches have involved physical activity and on-premises facilities; very few have involved breaches of public cloud services.  Generally, cloud services providers have a deep and broad understanding of the security resources required and have made appropriate investments in infrastructure and monitoring systems.  We discussed the question of how many organizations have adequate in-house resources to manage and keep pace with the evolving security requirements.  We agree that many IT departments are already stretched thin maintaining the broadening array of skills and knowledge.  And it is getting harder by the day.

Busted1It is good practice to identify where security responsibilities lie between your organization and providers.  It’s also important to identify security hotspots, who’s responsible for which and to ensure that robust SLAs are in place.   We also feel that it’s a matter of balancing risk, trust, and making sure you assess each provider and service separately.  At Cisco we assess every cloud service we contract, and have gathered insightful advice and lessons learnt from our risk management team.

Myth 5:  Cloud Is Synonymous With Data Centers

There is much more to the cloud than cloud computing and data centers.  We all feel that the majority of industry activity has centered on the data center and virtualization infrastructure.  We all feel that we’re at the beginning of a market inflection where cloud services will drive the next generation of interest and innovation.  This is why Cisco’s vision and Intercloud strategy encompasses both the infrastructure and cloud services.

Busted1Just as the Internet showed limited capability in its infancy, we feel that the cloud will grow up.  We’ll see a greater focus and interest around cloud-enabled applications and services.   For me, this is the most interesting myth we agreed on.  At the end of the day, it’s about what the cloud will do for us, the users and the experiences it enables.  That is much more interesting than how it is constructed.

So Kate Bush was right: adults are fallible and a cloudbuster is a useful device.

If you had one, what cloud myth would you like to bust?

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