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Top 10 Cloud Computing Complaints

Leading industry experts respond to gripes that IT professionals have about the security, cost, and portability of cloud computing in the enterprise.

Gripe #5: "We've got clouds popping up all over the enterprise."

Allowing unfettered, enterprise-wide access to cloud resources poses significant business risks, observes Philip Lieberman, founder and CEO of privileged identity management provider Lieberman Software.

"Business users see the cloud as a way of saving money without understanding the security, audit, or regulatory implications," he says. "Cloud is being brought in through the back door, and when auditors discover what's been done, they need to make a judgment as to what the exposure is."

Often, the risks aren't worth the ostensible cost savings from the cloud providers. "It's their business to give you compute power at a low cost," Lieberman adds. "They're not in the security business."

Enterprise IT departments are advised to reclaim the relationship between business units and external providers. "As you begin to look at cloud computing at the enterprise level, you need to first go throughout the business units to clean out the early adopters," says PwC's Pearl. "Bring those that jumped out in front into your overall enterprise strategy."

Gripe #6: "Without standards, I'm locked into my cloud vendor."

Portability has become the biggest gripe in cloud computing at the enterprise level, according to Edward Newman, global practice director of private cloud services at EMC. "It's not as if you can burst a workload out to Amazon today and then burst it out to Rackspace or Terremark tomorrow," he says. "The standards haven't yet been adopted that allow for easy movement of workloads and data to multiple cloud vendors."

Portability in the cloud would have to encompass a complicated set of policies and business requirements with regard to IT policies, regulatory compliance, and information security practices, which makes for a particularly challenging set of standards.

"You need the ability to migrate data from one cloud service provider to another, and there are cloud interoperability scenarios that need to be addressed as well," notes Matt Edwards, director of the cloud services initiative at TM Forum, a communications industry association. "There are multiple things that need to be addressed to avoid vendor lock-in and to remove the barriers for the adoption of cloud services."

Although the issues are widely recognized, consensus on the best solution is harder to reach. "New standards organizations for cloud crop up every day," says Edwards.

For its part, TM Forum has formed the Enterprise Cloud Leadership Council, with members from the banking, pharmaceutical, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, government, and communications sectors. "While there are specific business requirements in each industry, there's no need to reinvent the wheel for every vertical," says Edwards. "The key is to have a coordinated approach, and to make sure that the actual business requirements of enterprise consumers are being addressed."

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