Cloud Perception – Facts or Feelings?
Cloud solutions are one of the most disruptive forces in IT and telecommunications. According to Gartner, more than USD 1 trillion in technology spending will be dedicated to the transition to cloud technology over the next four years. At the same time, it might be exactly this aspect of disruption that leads to a feeling of discomfort; many organisations feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of development and growth in cloud technology.
We wanted to know more about the perception of cloud technology by different types of organisations and interviewed a representative mix of small and large companies in Germany, from various industries including public sector. Let’s explore some of the typical concerns shared by the majority of interviewed organisations and check the underlying facts to find out how justified they really are.
Concern 1: Unauthorised Access
Once you’ve said goodbye to your on premise system and transitioned to cloud technology, the solution will be hosted as a service by your cloud provider – and you won’t be able to touch it or even see it! So how do you make sure that only authorised users gain access? The answer: You don’t have to worry about this, as the cloud service will do it on your behalf.
Access security is placed between authorised users and the cloud service provider. It enforces the highest enterprise-level security policies through processes such as authentication, device profiling, encryption, tokens, logging, alerting, and so on. The reality is that it’s a huge challenge for most small-to-midsize organisations to implement and maintain the high level of security standards that most cloud service providers offer.
Concern 2: Data Security
How secure is your data, for example when being exchanged between your smartphone and your service provider’s cloud data centre? Prominent recent hacks like Dropbox don’t help to reassure organisations who are concerned about data security. But let’s dig a little deeper: In the Dropbox case, security experts concluded that the company might have lost sight of their encryption policies over time.
Data encryption is the widely accepted method to mitigate data security threats. Cloud service providers use built-in encryption to prevent unauthorised data access and to protect sensitive data stored in the cloud. Security breaches like those at Dropbox create media headlines, yet they are the rare exception and not the norm.
Concern 3: Reliability
Power failures, system crashes, fire damage – just a few examples of scenarios that can bring IT and communication systems to a standstill. Cloud service providers operate high-performance data centres with multiple software, hardware, and geographical redundancies. So even in the event of a fire in your office building or a natural disaster, your organisation’s data will be secure and available.
Beyond these crisis scenarios, there’s enough evidence that cloud solutions outperform on premise systems with regards to availability. For example, CloudSquare keeps track of the performance of the world’s largest cloud service providers in real time. The statistics speak for themselves – most of the listed services show availability rates of 99.9 to 100.0 percent. At NFON, we also maintain an overview of our operations at all times and communicate our system status through our NFON System Status page. If you’re interested in further details about our views on reliability and disaster recovery, check out our recent blog post.
Fear of Change versus Sense of Urgency
Most of these cloud-related concerns tie into a general fear of digitalisation. Regardless, organisations will need to leave their comfort zones and migrate from legacy IT and communication systems to modern solutions to keep pace with the rate of technology change. There is an obvious need to act as organisations are increasingly lacking the expertise and resources to keep their legacy systems alive. Furthermore, legacy communication standards such as ISDN will be laid to rest across many European countries.
Cloud services are no longer a futuristic concept, and we are beyond the stage where only early adopters experiment with it. Cloud solutions have matured and offer benefits like fast deployment times, instant scalability, seamless no-hidden-costs maintenance, better IT resource allocation, flexible contracts and subscription-based pricing — and that’s just to name a few. Startups especially enjoy the benefits of cloud services, and we’ll explore these in more detail in our next blog post – watch this space!
The bottom line: Gut feeling is not always a good advisor. Cloud services are clearly beyond the conceptual stage. Our fact check shows that many concerns are not justified, although it’s understandable that many organisations are overwhelmed with the fast evolution of cloud technology and communications. Our advice: Engage a trusted cloud service provider to develop a strategy that fits to your organisation and pursue a step-by-step transition to cloud services.