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3 Cloud Myths That Won't Go Away

Christopher Columbus is generally credited as the first European to “discover” America. Many historians, however, dispute this and claim that honor belongs to Viking explorer Leif Eriksson. Still others say that an Irish monk named Brendan made an epic voyage that beat both to the claim hundreds of years earlier.

Whatever the truth is, popular myths persist. So how does Columbus Day weekend have anything to do with cloud? Plenty. There are still many cloud myths and perceptions afloat on a sea of computing confusion. In the spirit of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, here are three cloud myths that continue to linger:

1. Once your data is in the cloud, you’re locked-in. This is often a sticking point for many IT decision makers. They think that once you pull the trigger on a public cloud deployment like AWS, Azure, Google, or Rackspace, it’s really hard to get your data back. While this had been a legitimate concern for some time, we’re starting to see tools become available which ease data migration to and from the public cloud.

For example, Amazon just announced the general availability of its “Snowball” appliance at Re:Invent this week. Users can migrate their data to a Snowball appliance, ship it to AWS and have all their data uploaded to S3 instances. Once the data is loaded in the AWS cloud, the customer only has to replicate over the delta changes to complete the migration. 

Another example is startup Velostrata, which provides a virtual appliance for managing data movement between private data centers and the cloud. And since it only moves active data into the cloud, businesses can save on bandwidth-related costs and rapidly migrate data to and from the cloud at will. In short, both Velostrata and AWS Snowball provide a way to maintain control over business data to avoid cloud lock-in.

2. Data centers will go away or everything will eventually run in the public cloud. This myth has often been perpetuated by some of the big public cloud providers like Amazon, although some traditional technology vendors such as Oracle also are pushing hard to get their customers to run a larger percentage of their workloads in their clouds. 

As I described in a blog post earlier this year, we are seeing broad adoption of AWS by younger companies. Likewise, Oracle reports that its cloud services, particularly its Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) offerings, are gaining in popularity. This is particularly true for those businesses that don’t have Oracle DBAs on staff or don’t want to make an investment in dedicated data center infrastructure; they can leverage Oracle for that instead.

And while traditional businesses are increasingly consuming cloud services, particularly backup, DR and IaaS for dev/test and other purposes, most end-users we speak to say they plan to run the bulk of their core business workloads in their private data center environments for the foreseeable future. This is a strong indication that hybrid cloud will be the consumption model of choice going forward. 

3. Data is more secure on-premise than in the cloud. Cloud security consistently ranks as the top concern by IT decision makers in nearly every ESG survey. The irony is that unless you have a cadre of security experts with PhDs on staff, your data is probably much more secure in the cloud than it is on premise. Cloud service providers have to get security right, otherwise they’ll be out of business. And as my colleague Jon Oltsik continues to point out, there is a dearth of security knowledge in the industry with many more “black hats” (bad guys/hackers) in cyberspace than “white hats” (good guy security pros).

Leveraging a cloud or managed service provider to backfill knowledge gaps in security and other skillsets could be a good approach for many businesses looking to strike the right balance between on-premise and cloud-based computing.

Paradoxically, despite the seeming persistence of these fear-driven cloud myths, recent ESG research suggests that businesses are intent on forging ahead with adopting cloud services to augment their on-premises infrastructure. Perhaps this is a barometer that these myths, like all impermanent things, are starting to fade.