I hear an awful lot of fear about cloud computing in my work here on the Cloud Formations blog, when I go to conferences, and wherever CIOs and IT folks gather, but I don’t ever hear about this fear from users, who are tickled to have the convenience the cloud provides. Are users deluded? Are IT pros paranoid? Or is it somewhere likely in the middle (like so many things).
Can’t Argue with Convenience
The cloud provides a convenient place to store, share and collaborate with colleagues and friends. Services like Dropbox let you easily store and share files in the Cloud. Others like Box.net provide a collaboration platform in the Cloud, one that grows in sophistication with each new release. With tools like these, I sync my files to the cloud, and I pick them up anywhere I have internet access, whether that’s my cell phone, my office or a business machine at my hotel. You are never without your files because they are always there for you, ready to access whenever you need them.
Security, Privacy, Control
IT on the other hand, looks at this convenience and sees all the things that can go wrong when you distribute files outside the firewall. There are issues of keeping the file secure as it travels over the internet, maintaining the privacy of the individuals using the service (and those who could be named in the files ). When it leaves the firewall, the files leave the control of IT and that understandably concerns IT pros, but is the fear warranted or is it a gut reaction to a primal loss of control?
Craig Carpenter, VP of marketing at eDiscovery software vendor Recommind thinks there is an economic imperative to carefully review your concerns about cloud computing to see if they are valid or not for your organization. He says a lot of the concerns are “gut-level,” but under closer examination, many concerns turn out to be “red herrings.” He says companies need to explore cloud options because “it’s more cost-effective in spite of the risks.”
Carpenter says his company offers a cloud option for eDiscovery and nobody is more security-conscious than attorneys, but they too are beginning to see the advantages of using a cloud option. As eDiscovery data grows inside the enterprise, does it make more sense to let Recommind (or other cloud vendor) grow the data center for you, or to continue to watch data center costs escalate with no end in sight?
No Easy Answers
Of course, the argument could go on forever, but as companies get more comfortable with the cloud, we will begin to see more types of data moved to that model. There is no perfect solution to any computer problem, but you have to weigh the costs versus the benefits and decide which risk is bigger: the growing costs of maintaining your own data center or the fear of losing control of data outside the firewall? My guess is convenience and cost trumps fear in most cases.
What do you think? Is moving your data to the cloud too big a risk or is it worth it for convenience and cost savings?