Whether ones are keen on the idea of shifting things to the “cloud,” one thing is for sure – cloud computing is where many businesses and even individuals are shifting their data and services. However, with all of the benefits that cloud computing brings to the table, there are definitely concerns about many aspects of the technology. We have compiled a list of 5 things you should be concerned about when thinking about or using cloud infrastructure to store your data or services.
Do you really own your data?
This is the big question among many leading IT experts when it comes to thinking about cloud computing and storing data and hosting services there. Do you really own it? In the fine print of many of the cloud services there are statements about the fact that the data may be subject to use or storage in a way that may not line up with business policies of a particular organization. Do you have the right to say your data is completely off limits to the cloud service and what is more important, how do you know that your policies are being complied with if that is part of the agreement?
This aspect leads to many very disturbing thoughts when it comes to where and to whom your data is made available and what means you have to audit your policies and requirements when your data resides in the cloud, completely out of your reach.
Watered down administration and functionality
Many services that are offered as a cloud based service hosted elsewhere may have administrative capabilities that are very watered down compared to an on premises equivalent to that service. One example of this is a hosted Exchange implementation. There are tons of very useful powershell commandlets in Exchange that can query and manipulate users in a very efficient and effective way that allows a system administrator to quickly do what he or she needs to do.
However, in the cloud format, hosted Exchange may have a very watered down subset of the normally available commandlets which can severely limit what you would normally be able to do very easily in a full implementation. These watered down features may be another reason why an organization would opt not to house services in the cloud if functionality and capability to administer environments is of primary concern.
Another issue of concern when hosting services and data in the cloud is connectivity to those services and data. If you house both in the cloud and your Internet connection goes down, you are essentially disconnected from that data and those services. Redundant WAN links will certainly help, but still there is no guarantee that will make sure that you have 100% connectivity to your data and services.
An on premises solution assures that even when the WAN fails due to circumstances that is outside of the administrator’s control, access to the internal resources is still intact.
Privacy and Security
This concern ties in very closely to the first concern about who owns the data, but it also takes it a step further. Even if you “own” your data there, how do you know and enforce who has access to your data and whose eyes see what you have hosted there. Also, security of your sensitive information would always be a concern since again it is outside the scope of your network and control.
Also, it is reasonable to assume that if you are hosting data and services at a very large or well known cloud provider, your visibility due to the nature of the cloud provider is going to be increased. Many of the large providers are targeted for password hacks and so forth by hackers to obtain sensitive information.
Cost is always an issue when it comes to considering new services and thinking about accomplishing business goals while meeting budgets. While many may lean towards cloud computing because of cutting costs, there are certainly costs to be considered that can add up. Of course, there are costs involved with the actual service that is being hosted or the data storage that is being provided in the cloud. Also, however, there is cost associated with man hours that will be spent with support online or on the telephone when you have to have others accomplish things that would normally take little time to accomplish on site.
We have already mentioned watered down administrative functionality and this goes hand in hand with time spent troubleshooting or acquiring data from hosted services. Most of the time it is more cumbersome to do this with a hosted service than it is with an on premises solution.