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What Are the Biggest Downsides to Cloud Computing?

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Certainly one of the main concerns with the cloud is security, but with this mad dash towards the cloud, what are some of the other downsides to cloud cmputing that need to be considered?

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  • Hmmmm... The top 3 for me include:

    1. A fear that the vendor hype will set unreasonable expectations and ultimately cause disillusionment with a very viable business and technology platform.
    2. The critical need for standardization to enable portability and interoperability.
    3. Technology purists getting hung up on names and implementation details rather than achievement of benefits.

  • 1) Your organization doesn't have an enterprise strategy or architecture, and business units rely on a tangle of cloud services. The result is a lot of additional duplication. Instead of an enterprise architecture, you have JBOCS -- Just a Bunch of Cloud Services.

    2) When your cloud provider relies on another cloud provider for something else, such as storage. Therefore, some of your functionality could be two, three steps removed from your direct purview and control.

  • 1) Vendor lock in
    2) Surprising variable costs

    if you are set up wrong, you can end up with a pretty fat bill.

  • Good points by Tarak, our thinking is aligned on this one. I'll substitute "downsides" with "risks" because some of these may be viewed as half empty / half full arguments, but I see the biggest current risks as:

    1. Market confusion. As Peter mentioned, it is a mad dash to the cloud right now. And since nobody wants to feel left out, just about every company in the B2B tech space has re-branded itself as a cloud computing company. I've heard this referred to as "cloudwashing," and the result is that companies will find it more difficult to find services specific to their needs, because of the tendency of providers to water down messaging into cloud buzzwords and ignore basic positioning and value statements.

    2. Cloud sprawl. With the rapid proliferation of cloud services, IT is struggling to adapt corporate service delivery strategies. The results that we have seen have included duplication and overlap of processes and functions due to services being provisioned directly by business units; loss of control of the billing for services because no single entity within the company is responsible for the procurement and management of them; and the equivalent of "shelfware," a situation where cloud services are orphaned after the champion leaves the company or the business shifts focus.

    3. Lack of cohesive integration strategy. There is no doubt in my mind that the cloud model of service delivery is the one that we will adopt for at least the next 10-15 years of technology cycles, but until the integration of all of the pieces is thought through, the sum of the parts will never add up. My company has standardized our core service offerings around the Force.com platform from salesforce.com to provide the "glue" that holds all of the pieces together, and we "mash up" other cloud services into composite enterprise business systems through API integration, business process orchestration, and data integration using services such as Boomi. But if companies just provision cloud services for siloed requirements up and down the cloud stack (from infrastructure to SaaS), the disaggregation of these services will prove to be a value destroyer.

  • Taking out the security and data ownership problems, I would say:
    1. Barriers of integration - unless you put all your systems on the same cloud, you would be challenged with integration barriers.
    2. Stable communication - it may sound funny, but there still maybe communication outage from your office to the internet. If your operational system is on the cloud, you are out of business
    3. Same as above No. 2 but about communication speed.
    4. Last but not least - what if you cloud vendor goes out of business? how complicated it would be to extract, move and reinstall your systems?
    Noam

  • If your data is in the cloud - just where is it? Some organisations have commitments to customers that their data stays in-country. A second-hand but relevant story, a speaker asks an audience who uses app X a percentage raise their hand. The speaker asks who has a commitment about not shipping data overseas? Several hands stay up, the speaker asks someone where do you think your data is? A reply comes back - on the European server. The speaker says - is that the one in the vendor's only physical offices in California with a sticker on it saying Europe? There are lots of good points raised above, the key issue is thinking clearly about what this approach means and understanding the risks and issues as part of a coherent strategic approach.

  • Great question this, far too many people jump on the cloud bandwagon and havent really looked at the downsides / restrictions cloud computing has and will have...

    There are some very serious issues that cloud computing raises which mean for some business requirements, the cloud shouldnt be used. So what are the downsides of the cloud? My list, unlike others in this post, also looks at the cloud from a business and users point of view:

    1. Stable communication - this has been mentioned by Noam, and its a good point. It is great to presume that our internet connection will always be up, but it simply wont be.
    2. Communication performance - I know we are in the 2010, but internet performance is not as good as my LAN, especially when I have hundreds of users trying to connect and use particular software. Bandwidth, local area usage of the internet in general, internet provider, cloud providers internet connection rates etc etc are all potential issues
    3. Application performance - I love SaaS, but to use it heavily on mission critical software is a no go. Not only do you have issues with communication stability and performance, you also have issues with the actual software performance itself (waiting for calls to be made across the web etc). It is also worth noting, just what technology is used to deliver SaaS applications. Stadard web pages with AJAX place quite a load on the server, and will no doubt have further performance issues
    4. SaaS usability - Often web based software has issues with usability of the UI. This is an issue that is starting to be negated with technology such as Silverlight, however, with traditional web pages this is a real issue
    5. Just where is my content / data - Ian's comment above is very valid. In addition, many organisations (by law) have to know exactly where their content is stored. This doesnt mean "its in the cloud" rather you need to know its exact location and how has access to the physical hardware it sits on. In the cloud, this just isnt possible.
    6. Limitations on integration - Many organisations need to embrace cross application integration to raise efficiency and at the end of the day customer experiences. On the cloud this is very limiting
    7. Different implementations / ideas of a cloud - Some implementations use virtual environments of actual servers, others limit the things you can place on the cloud (sometimes to be written with a certain language etc)
    8. Reliance on more than a single provider - some cloud providers utilise other cloud providers. This means that your applications etc become reliant on not just one set of "cloud based variables", but many.
    9. Too many people jumping on the bandwagon - by this i mean IT companies and providers. Many now state their software is cloud enabled or are providing solutions for the cloud (which is fine). However, what constitues a cloud solution between software providers varies quite a bit
    10. Lock in - locked in to a certain cloud provider, or more importantly, into the way in which they deliver cloud computing.
    11. Costs - Believe it or not, cloud computing for certain tasks will be more expensive than sticking to using your own in-house environment. Always always look at the actual operational cost as a whole to your organisation and not just a comparison like for like on a particular peice of software (or SaaS variant).

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