If you randomly selected 10 people on the street and asked them to define "cloud computing," you would likely get 10 different answers. This is not surprising, given the wide spectrum of (confusing) literature and viewpoints on cloud computing available on the public domain. This confusion has been escalated in recent months by the marketing departments of service providers and equipment manufacturers keen to promote these new buzzwords at every opportunity.
To clear up some of the confusion surrounding cloud computing, let me share the National Institute of Standards and Technology's definition of the term:
Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
That definition is concise but insufficient, because of some of the ways cloud computing has been used in recent years. In fact, as a result of the ubiquity and rapid adoption of the phrase "cloud computing," many myths have developed about what it is and what it can or cannot do, driving further confusion about the utility of the technology for operational purposes. I would like to help dispel some of those myths, including the ones you may not have heard before but will cross your path eventually. Here are some of the interesting (and popular) myths I have encountered
The future is the "cloud," or the "cloud" is the future.
It is true that cloud computing will transform computing, but it is not realistic to expect it to replace traditional computing services and applications altogether. Traditional computing is about full user control, customization, flexibility, and fixed costs. Cloud computing is based on variable and scalable costs, limited user control, and standardization.
One advantage of cloud computing is its potential for delivering huge amounts of computing power that users would not be able to access in traditional computing. Therefore, future computing solutions are likely to use a mix of traditional and cloud computing.
Cloud computing saves you money.
Businesses with dedicated servers are wasting a significant portion of their money due to the inefficiencies in use and operations. Cloud computing is not 100 percent efficient, but it wastes less, and the fact that you pay only for what you use can save you money if you use it right. Cloud computing can save you money under certain situations, but not always. This is similar to booking a hotel room for a few nights versus renting a house. Booking a hotel room can be cost-effective in some situations, but renting a house can be more cost-effective in others.
Privacy ends where cloud computing begins.
The main concern here is the common perception that, once your data leaves your possession and is stored elsewhere, it becomes someone else's data. Besides the common paranoia, there are valid concerns about privacy with cloud computing. However, cloud computing as a business is expected to take user privacy very seriously, given the fact that, on the cloud, data from competing companies may have to sit side by side.
The reliability of cloud computing is questionable.
Cloud computing is expected to have sufficient redundancy to restore data without any losses when disaster strikes. However, to be safe, users should back up any data they have in the cloud. Even though cloud computing is generally reliable, users should not leave themselves unprotected. Always remember that it is your responsibility to back up as a user, even in a cloud environment.
Cloud computing means the end of IT jobs.
Cloud computing does not mean everything operates completely autonomously with no human intervention. Though their roles will change, IT personnel will still be needed in the cloud.
Cloud computing means a complete network replacement.
Unless you intend to do everything on the cloud (or your network is in pretty bad shape), this is not true. Typically, businesses try to find a balance between what they keep on the cloud and what they perform on the enterprise network. Bandwidth for accessing the cloud is a cost concern, so complete network replacement is never a viable option for businesses.
Cloud computing is not secure.
If you doubt whether this is a myth, you are not alone. According to a survey by the British mobile operator O2 (UK) Ltd. , one of the key barriers for businesses in implementing cloud computing is data security. To be perfectly honest, I am one of the skeptics on the security aspect of cloud computing. However, there are valid arguments why this should not be a concern.
For one thing, cloud computing service providers are exposed and have to invest in good security to keep the business running. At the end of the day, it is fair to say such companies will invest more in security than what most users would be able to achieve on their own. However, as with privacy, cloud computing users have a responsibility when it comes to security. Access rights on the cloud need to be granted and restricted as and when needed.
No matter how skeptical one might be about cloud computing, it is also worthwhile to note a few important trends that will push cloud computing forward:
Workforce mobility, collaboration, and data sharing online will increase.
Demand for access to almost infinite computing power will also increase.
Businesses will keep pushing the capabilities of the cloud to reduce costs while improving operational efficiency.
Despite all the concerns and reservations, these trends will make it almost impossible to ignore or do without cloud computing in the future.
Another application that I find extremely useful in cloud computing is sharing data between devices that are running incompatible operating systems such as an iPad and a PC running Windows XP.
Storage on the cloud makes it very simple to share the same data file between two computers to allow him/her to change the content of the same file. I believe as new devices are launched, the cloud will provide the means to make data available on any platform whenever the user likes.
Now that's the kind of freedom and flexibility I like in my digital world!
I am not sure if the Cloud will increase the number of IT jobs. One argument is that because the Cloud is expected to replace most of the existing enterprise networks in especially small companies, there may be a "shift" of IT jobs from small companies to the Cloud service providers.
Also, with the emphasis of automation and minimal human intervention promised by the Cloud, there isn't much potential for increasing IT jobs.
The cloud is not alone in adopting mealy-mouthed explanations that's don't really mean anything once they are deciphered. I often wonder if PR and marketing people are paid by the syllable. Some things don't lend themselves to simplicity--maybe the cloud is one. The NIST definition isn't too bad and spares us "agility, robust and total system solution."
You have raised a valid point there Jacob. People often do not take the time to dig deep into the definitions of terms they hear day in and they out. Internet, e-learning and cloud are often treated as synonyms by most people, which creates a great confusion and therefore a fantastic opportunity for sales and marketing people to make more money.
Another danger is that people tend to adopt the first definition they come across for a term they are not familiar with without doubting its accuracy and completeness. Very few people spend the time to use to different references for the definition of the same term to make sure they adopt the correct one.
In an age where there is so much 'information pollution', using multiple references has become a must in my opinion.
Cryptomn, security and connectivity are two major issues with all sorts of cloud offerings. As of now there are no solutions for removing the connectivity bottle necks but certain solutions are available for security. So those who are very much concerned about security can prefer private cloud and public cloud for others. Hybrid cloud can offer a mix of both private and public cloud
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.