Cloud Myths and Silver Linings

Find the right Cloud model for your business when migrating in-house IT systems.

This is the third of three entries in a Cleo blog series exploring what is driving cloud growth today and the “state of the cloud” for modern businesses. Part One discusses the reluctance some business have for adopting cloud processes, and Part Two explores cloud drivers and the real promise of global agility.

Finding the best cloud fit for dynamic data and elastic workloads

Even as IT budgets grow to remain on par with increasing cloud initiatives, a misguided perception persists – one that considers cloud computing as a whole to be inherently flawed. The assumption is that the adoption of any cloud model will inevitably subject critical business information living in the virtual ecosystem to the escalated prospect of security failings, and the loss or exposure of crucially sensitive data. However, as some sort of cloud capability is a fixture of pretty much every CIO’s shopping list, cloud denial, or worse – purchasing with an “any of the above will do” mentality can never be free of consequence. The cloud is the cloud is the cloud? Hardly not! In fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Not all cloud models are alike when it comes to migrating in-house IT systems and business data off-premise.

Despite being recognized for its relative ease of use, and cost savings thanks to a pay-per-use pricing model, the public cloud on its own is unlikely to be the right fit for any comprehensive business information storage, sharing, or communications systems. It is called “public” for a reason – sensitive enterprise data will end up sharing the same data environment with other tenants subscribing to the third-party service. Along with an inherent loss of privacy compared with on-premise systems, key visibility and control over critical data get diluted as a business shifts IT assets to the public cloud. Furthermore, as uptime is essential for daily business operations, the need for constant reliability flies in the face of the multiple publicized outages that have afflicted public cloud users and should not be downplayed. Finally, relevant security concerns can be thrown into sharp relief as business-critical data is managed by the public cloud vendor – one that could potentially prioritize its own business interests over a customer’s data sovereignty.

The private cloud, on the other hand, stands in stark contrast. By offering single tenancy capability, any deployment will naturally be organization-specific. Custom specificity then allows a company to craft sets of highly tailored security elements providing an edge over the public cloud. When it comes to security, reliability, and especially control of mission-critical and highly sensitive data, private is the stronger option. Still, what initially appears to be a clear-cut advantage over the public model, has its own stumbling block. Customization immediately stipulates the demand for a high degree of in-house IT expertise to set up and maintain this dedicated hosting environment. Additionally, there is another fairly concrete downside to acquiring private cloud capability – cost. To an enterprise evaluating a private cloud, expense may prove to be a powerful inhibition and the deciding factor working against this model.

Not all cloud models are created equal when it comes to the control of diversified data.

Hybrid clouds are more flexible and agile than alternative cloud models. A hybrid cloud configuration allows for the combination of in-house and external hosting environments. So, the savvy CIO can use this capacity to mix and match components in order to realize the low cost and high ease of use of the public model, along with the flexibility, clear control, and data governance offered by a privately hosted environment.

As the superior option for doing business and hosting business information and systems, hybrid cloud implementation continues to grow in popularity compared with its part and parcel counterparts. The hybrid cloud has matured to become the near-standard for virtualized enterprise data management. Yet, realizing the most compelling benefits of hybrid cloud computing is only possible through the optimal stratification and allocation of data within the clearly defined spheres of the hybrid system. And this particular ability for intelligent asset migration calls for intelligent integration.

To get the hybrid cloud right, it is essential to get integration right.

While there is no specific class of information that universally belongs in only one facet of the hybrid cloud environment, there are certain considerations companies should take into account when deciding upon asset migration and integration to a hybrid infrastructure. Simply put, what are the distinct levels of privacy, governance, visibility, and control that an enterprise’s myriad sensitive and non-sensitive data segments call for?

Today, virtually any enterprise deals in both classes of data. It is therefore the surety of modern data complexity that illustrates the superiority of a fully-integrated hybrid solution over any breed of standalone public or private cloud option.

For instance, a company may frequently need to:

  • Handle compliance-intensive customer data, including credit card or patient health information
  • Secure trading partner documents, such as legal contracts and transaction records
  • Digitally house intellectual property, including patented designs

This information capital demands the private element of a hybrid cloud solution. Integration with the private component ensures the manageability, insight, and security-as-a-given required when it comes to all operations-critical data.

Comparatively, non-sensitive materials, like marketing collateral – information designed to share – can be integrated with the hybrid solution and cost-effectively hosted on the public cloud component.

Ultimately, the hybrid model provides a foundation to correct a pervasive cognitive bias, one that holds the cloud universally a victim of apparent insufficiencies. Yet, one cloud is not just any cloud – unambiguous differentiators delineate each model.

The drawbacks of using the public cloud alone are the indisputable lack of privacy, security, control, and visibility. Whereas, the self-contained private cloud, although elastic, can lead to runaway capital expenditures and the overtaxing of native IT personnel. On the other hand, the integrated hybrid model allows a company to:

  • Leverage scalability
  • Rely on responsive elasticity
  • Utilize in-house and external assets
  • Realize agility and flexibility
  • Harness customization for optimal governance, visibility, and control
  • Exceed data security parameters of even on-premise installations

The fully integrated hybrid cloud model mitigates the risk factors of standalone public or private cloud systems. For an enterprise with dynamic data, elastic workloads, and a need for clear visibility and data governance, when the CIO looks to the cloud, there really is no other choice.