5 Potential Downsides to Cloud Computing
If you are looking to utilize digital services of any kind, you are going to need hardware resources to do so including a CPU, memory, storage, and a network connection. These resources can be used locally if you choose or can be provided with a cloud-based infrastructure. Additionally, you can choose to have locally based software resources to offer your products or services, or you can decide on using software as a service (SaaS) and completely be cloud-based with your own offerings.
It isn’t a secret that cloud computing, at whatever level you choose to analyze, has benefited many enterprises who have opted in. Some of these benefits include cost advantages, more focused business strategies, and flexibility. In this post, we will be discussing some of the potential downsides that could occur when migrating to the cloud and how to relatively approach those weaknesses with possible solutions.
1. Downtime –
Because internet connectivity is at the foundation of all cloud-computing services, your business must have a stable connection to the internet in order to function and use cloud services. A lost internet connection in a cloud environment would be the same as your local server being down or your computer not being able to turn on in any other environment. Although cloud computing utilizes an internet connection to operate, an outage with your ISP would be crippling to business functionality regardless if you were using a cloud-based infrastructure or not, since nearly everything requires it anyways. For instance, even if you had local hardware controlling your internal network, you still wouldn’t be able to communicate with the outside world without an internet connection. And if you had a VoIP phone system, you wouldn’t be able to make or receive calls either. A different perspective shows that an internet outage would be detrimental either way.
A good solution to this problem would be to have a fail-over internet source provided by a separate ISP if one source goes down. There are also products that have immediate fail-over to a 4G connection built into the network hardware. These backup solutions can be a life saver during the inevitable event of an internet outage.
2. Security and Vulnerability –
A cloud service provider assumes the responsibility of safeguarding and managing the hardware infrastructure layer of a deployment, but your responsibilities as the client is the layer of user access management. This incurs some risk of internal security, user permissions, and accessibility. But this level of risk is relatable to any computing environment, not just cloud servers.
The key is to implement best practices to minimize security breaches both internally and externally. This includes extending antivirus measures and multi-factor authentication to each endpoint. Also, it’s important to understand the shared responsibility of these security measures with your cloud provider.
It’s also important to note that most modern security breaches are in the form of phishing emails. This should be one of the highest priorities of combating security threats as the danger of these attacks are increasing exponentially. There are numerous third-party applications that assist in detecting and removing non-legitimate emails and notify you of potential phishing attacks which should be seriously considered as an add-on to cloud hosted mail environments like Office 365.
3. Vendor Contracts –
Contractual stipulations can also be another disadvantage to cloud computing when you are tied to a prior agreement. Organizations might find major difficulties when switching services from one vendor to another, which is something that hasn’t yet completely evolved. Difference in vendor platforms can further increase these difficulties which would create additional costs for configuration.
This is true, however, with any vendor relationship in the digital industry. There are plenty of IT consulting companies that must off-board clients who are exiting for various reasons, and these processes aren’t always the easy or cheap. Therefore, it’s important to partner with the right cloud service provider as well as an IT consulting firm and form a mutually beneficial relationship that may prevent future issues.
4. Limited control –
Your service provider owns and manages the hardware infrastructure in the cloud environment. Because of this, it translates either minimal or no control over to the customer. Sometimes cloud users may find they have far less control over the execution of services within a cloud-environment. It’s important to understand what level of control your users require and make sure you have outlined these requirements to your provider. Again, this can be construed as a negative consequence of cloud services, but it’s about building a lasting relationship with a consultant that will help with implementing, running, and supporting cloud services.
5. Cost -
Migrating to the cloud on a small scale or for short-term projects can seem expensive. Even when you look at it in terms of long-term relationships, there are recurring costs adding up every month. Even though one of the highest benefits of cloud computing comes from cost savings in hardware maintenance and IT costs, the overall expense could end up being higher than your previous systems. If you are interested in migrating to these cloud services, it’s a good idea to consider what level of cloud implementation works best for your operations and your budget.
However, more often than not, the long-term savings, scalability, pay-as-you-go structure of the cloud is widely financially beneficial. Just make sure to not over-provision and scale up or down depending on your usage.
It’s important to seriously challenge the popularity of something when thinking of implementing a new process that can be expensive and time consuming. Migrating at least some of your business to cloud services is often greatly beneficial and carries numerous features that your employees would otherwise not have. However, because everything isn't the same, it’s still worth investigating how the cloud can positively impact your data security, flexibility, and bottom-line before making the investment.