Cloud Computing and Common Misconceptions

Cloud computing is here to stay and delivering one of the few growth areas in the IT sector. Moving data and applications to the Cloud makes a lot of commercial sense, however detractors have been making noise about certain aspects of the solution.

Consumer advocates and some industry professionals have been making mileage out of privacy fears; essentially, Cloud computing brings with it the end of privacy as we know it. The impact has been to create concern and apprehension in the minds of users, which can feed through into technology adoption rates. Developers and adopters have responded with a curtailing of project implementations, which has essentially reduced the effectiveness of the solution.

The burning debate is just who actually owns the data?

Just when does “your” data stored on someone else’s infrastructure become “their” data? This is something online social networks have to address, for instance, who owns the photographs you put up on Facebook? What use can be made of “your” data stored on a virtual network? There is big difference between commercial data and personal information, but in an age when everything is being boiled down to zeroes and ones, what is the difference really? cloud computing

Ultimately, you must make sure the issue of privacy, and what uses your data can be put to by third-party Cloud services providers, is dealt with at the start of any contract and before implementation. Bottom line is that the data is “yours” but you must restrict the ability of third-parties to access it, say with an open contract.

Another misconception with Cloud is that it is unreliable. Cloud computing enjoys very high uptime standards, not least because it is simpler to arrange for fail-over solutions when you are operating out on the Web. There is no massive IT infrastructure to be replicated or synchronized after all. Disaster recovery is more effective in a Cloud environment and cheaper to implement and manage. DR on the Cloud is also more responsive, with near-seamless fail-over and in the event of catastrophic incidents, your data and applications are still available, say from employees’ homes.

The third major misconception with Cloud computing is that the solution is not scalable. It is important to understand we are not dealing with the physical issues of scalability – in this regard, Cloud computing is eminently flexible and possess numerous advantages. In this context, claims of poor scalability emanate usually from developers and software architects, especially in the context of the ability of the underlying development platform’s ability to handle scaling up. The issue not the Cloud’s – scalability is not a factor provided sufficient bandwidth is available.

The problem is with the development environments and languages; for instance Ruby on Rails is an excellent solution, but Twitter ran into serious issues when the numbers of users was being ramped up. The problem resides within the development platforms and languages being used and their limitations, not the Cloud’s. In such instances, it is the software architect who should take responsibility to ensure the languages used are capable of supporting scalability before development commences.

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Category: Computer Networking

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