Thursday 18th June 2015
by John Casey

John Casey

Top Five Challenges of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is steadily gaining acceptance within businesses.  The global cloud computing market is expected to grow at a 30% CAGR reaching $270 billion in 2020.

Cloud Computing has already started to revolutionise the way we store and access data. We currently see smartphone applications use cloud computing technology to allow users to store and access data they previously couldn’t on a smart device.

Although cloud computing is on its way to becoming a huge success and whilst it is clear there is a lot of business value, there are reservations amongst some CIOs about using some cloud technologies. Let’s explore some of the challenges and concerns.

1. Security & Privacy

Security is a great concern for CIOs when moving their data to the cloud. Although security in the cloud is generally reliable and proficient, CIOs need to know that the cloud provider they chose to work with has a fully secure cloud environment.

CIOs are becoming more reluctant to hand over important data to a third party provider. With the growth in data breaches and the potential financial penalties and loss of reputation for companies who fall victim, moving your private data to an external provider is more daunting than ever.

A well-established cloud computing vendor will ensure they have the latest sophisticated security systems in place to defend against threats. We have put together a list of questions below that you should ask a cloud provider.

  • Where does your data reside?
  • Is the data encrypted?
  • How do you move data from the cloud?
  • What are your security governance policies and procedures?

The cloud provider should be able to answer all the above questions in detail, so that you know exactly where your data is stored and how they will protect your data against internal and external threats. Moreover, how can you retrieve that data if it becomes necessary.

2. Service Quality

Service quality is often one of the most significant factors that businesses cite as a reason for not moving their business applications to the cloud. Often businesses feel as though the SLAs provided by the cloud providers today are not adequate to assure the requirements for running a production application on the cloud, especially those related to availability, performance and scalability.

According to a recent survey 43% of IT decision makers are planning to invest more into cloud computing this year. CIOs need assurance that the company’s data will be secure and available, and the service reliable at all times. Ensuring maximum upkeep of the service is paramount for the profitability and sustainability of the business. We’ve put together a list of ten questions you should ask a provider before signing the contract;

  1. What are your minimum service levels?
  2. What remedies are in place when a failure occurs?
  3. What disaster recovery and business continuity procedures are in place?
  4. How portable is my data?
  5. What is your change management process?
  6. What are your infrastructure and security standards?
  7. How quickly do you identify and solve problems?
  8. What is your escalation process?
  9. What is your exit strategy?
  10. What is your termination process?

Without proficient service quality and comprehensive answers to the above questions, businesses will be reluctant to host their critical infrastructure within the cloud.

3. Downtime & Accessibility

Service quality doesn’t have to be compromised when your data is in the cloud. Accessing your data when you need it is a basic requirement from many organisations. The challenge with the cloud is that the data is accessed via an internet connection rather than a local connection. So when the network or internet connection is down, it also means that cloud services are also down; thus data cannot be accessed.

Performance of the cloud infrastructure can be affected by the load, environment and number of users. Ensuring that your cloud infrastructure is resilient to outages is vital. Whilst it is almost impossible to mitigate all server outages, a reputable provider will have robust resilience measures in place to protect your data.

4. Access to data

Cloud-based servers do not always have the most effective or appropriate customer service support systems. CIOs often express their concerns around data ownership and losing control of their data when moving to the cloud, but this shouldn’t be an issue. Selecting where and how your data is stored is an important element within the decision making process. Integration is a problem for many organisations. Ensuring that all of the applications are able to seamlessly integrate with one another is also a common challenge.

Important questions you should ask a cloud provider;

  • How much control do I have over my data and server?
  • How much time does it take to back up my data to the cloud?
  • How long does it take to back up my data?
  • Where does my data reside?
  • How does the service provider secure my data?
  • What are their audit procedures?
  • What happens in the event of data corruption?
  • How can I extract my data if I need to move elsewhere?

5. Transition to the cloud

Many cloud adoption challenges are unknown due to the fact that cloud technology is still in its relative infancy. CIOs are challenged deciding on the best way to transition to the cloud and finding a cloud solution that meets the aims of the businesses, whilst improving efficiencies.

Although transitioning to the cloud is a complex and involved process, there isn’t one route to success. CIOs must ensure that the proposed solution compliments their business model. There are various ways businesses can transition to the cloud. Whether it’s via private, public or hybrid technologies, identifying the right service model for your business is a vital step.

Questions that a cloud provider should ask you;

  • What are your demand patterns?
  • When do you get the biggest influx of data?
  • How much do you expect your data to grow?
  • Do you need control over the region (geographic) where your data resides?
  • What is your SLA expectation?

Migrating data poses a number of risks for organisations if not handled correctly. Developing a data migration strategy that integrates seamlessly with the current IT infrastructure is key to overall success.

CIOs are challenged with finding the right service model for their business. Finding a provider that will allow you to create a customised computing environment is vital.

The first step in transitioning to the cloud is being able to identify the challenges and working with your chosen cloud provider to navigate around these barriers in order to facilitate a successful cloud environment for the business. Whether Public, Private or Hybrid, making sure you ask the right questions and understand the risks for your business is imperative.

Read our related article – the Top 5 myths of cloud computing.


 Cloud Computing Challenges quote from John Casey, Group Sales Director, Trilogy

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