6 Misconceptions of the Cloud, by Roman Stanek, CEO of GoodData

Cloud–the least helpful word in the history of IT. I’ve always believed that the word “cloud” was a misnomer. It implies an environment that is uncontrollable, nebulous, wide open–meaning insecure as in, “Who left the door open to the jewelry store?” It turns out the cloud is actually highly secure, manageable, affordable and accessible. Plus, it offers flexibility and efficiency absent in on premise environments.


The reality is that if you have the right team managing your services in the cloud, the outcome can be more reliable and controlled than with traditional models. Cloud enables companies to offload complex processes like data integration and management to solutions like GoodData, who own and automate the problem from start to finish. This frees companies to focus on running their businesses and adding value instead of managing infrastructure, databases and integration procedures.


There is nothing inherent in cloud infrastructures that makes them insecure. Period. In fact, three times as many attacks target on premise data over cloud data. Most companies already store their most precious assets in the cloud, from ADP payroll data to Salesforce account and forecast information. Just like with on premise, it’s how vigilantly you manage your network and the data assets they contain that determines the efficacy of the security. Whether you outsource your cloud services or host in-house, it is critical to make security and governance a priority, because all internet-facing servers are under daily attack. This means having clear policies and enforcement, regular and scheduled testing, 24/7 monitoring not only of your network, but for all internet threats, data backup and recovery processes, and a culture that puts a premium on secure practices. Cloud service vendors dedicate exclusive staffing to this endeavor.


The assumption is that change takes time, both in implementation and adoption, and there isn’t time to invest in a new system, particularly one so different and seemingly complex as the cloud. Cloud-based services are designed to eliminate complexity. They are automated, flexible and crafted to meet your specific business needs. As we often hear from our customers, you shouldn’t have to be a database administrator to get insight from your data. Cloud computing drives down demand on IT labor and gives you access to a highly distributed platform without the hassle of managing complex back-end infrastructure. Plus, while fully implementing or building your own on premise solution could take years, solutions like GoodData can be up and running in less than 90 days. Yes, it’s that simple.


Ironically, while some people think the cloud is too complex, others think it’s too simple to handle advanced processes. If you feel that way, you’re probably concerned about the control you’d give up by moving to the cloud. Or that the applications built for the cloud had to be simplified to work in a hosted environment. Cloud-based services were built as scalable and flexible from the start, making them a far more robust environment than their on-premise brethren when it comes to bringing together the vast number of structured and unstructured data. It’s true, you’ll no longer have access to every tuning dial, especially at the hardware and operating system levels. But think of all the time and peace of mind you’ll gain by offloading that responsibility to a team of experts who manage those processes for hundreds or even thousands of companies every day. On premise is just too complicated for companies that want to scale and focus on driving business value. When SAP has to change its mantra to “Run Simpler,” you know there’s a problem.


When you’ve invested in on premise technology for a long time, you might think that switching to the cloud would be an expensive, painful process. Actually, the money you’d save by hosting in the cloud would drastically outweigh the costs (including opportunity costs) of making the switch. Cloud computing supports massive economies of scale and efficiency improvements that allows for lower prices especially when matched to an affordable subscription model. In the case of data analytics, we estimate at least a 50% cost savings of the cloud over your annual maintenance payments for traditional on-premise solutions.


Again, “the cloud” is a misnomer. There isn’t just one cloud–there are many, and you can choose the environment that best fits your needs. Private, Public and Hybrid options mean that you can decide on the level of security and management required. If your cloud-based operations support large amounts of confidential data (like customer data), you might go with a private cloud instead of public. Clouds also vary in terms of providers. Azure, GoGrid, Rackspace and Amazon Web Services, for example, all offer different kinds of environments. Some vendors, like GoodData, choose to maintain control more deeply into the operating stack than what is typically available in AWS, so we built an OpenStack-based cloud. Each environment is unique and allows for varying service levels for performance, security, uptime, and degrees of customization.

This article was originally published at GoodData Blog.

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