If you believe the hype, IT departments are about to become redundant and all that shiny hardware and flashing lights in the server room are about to become a thing of the past. We can look forward to the history and archaeologymuseums setting up displays of the IT Director’s office next door to the caveman exhibit!
Well, sorry to burst the cloud computing marketing bubble, but this is just not so. Cloud computing is full of issues as the technology develops, and as with any relatively new and innovative service or product, the application to the real world is uncovering new issues just as much as discovering new ways in which old issues, such as privacy have to be handled. Cloud computing offers some extremely excellent benefits but, developers and users must exercise a degree of circumspection and engage in regular reality checks!
To give you some perspective, look at the fat-client 1990’s with many claiming that the days of the mainframe were over. Thin-client installations grew extremely rapidly wit the likes of Citrix and ASP’s (Application Service Providers) making use more stable technology and faster web links to deliver IT services. Has the mainframe disappeared? Absolutely not! There are still applications for the mainframe, and this IT historical review simply demonstrates that one-size will never fit all in a business context. So it is for cloud computing.
Cloud computing does offer exceptional benefits in terms of staff productivity and cost savings, but businesses ought to consider cloud computing as a complementary service to in-house hardware systems. Issues such as disaster recovery and data protection do not go away simply because you establish a virtual data center – if your service provider suffers a failure event which loses your data, you’re still on the line for recovering that information and protecting it, so issues such as redundancy still apply in exactly the same way as with your hard systems.
Cloud computing services are rapidly expanding, but the marketing hyperbole is still ignoring the underlying business need and demands from users. Far from seeing the demise of IT departments, they will simply be realigned to assessing which services offer competitive and business benefits for their companies and how the mix of cloud and non-cloud services will be delivered. On the one hand, cloud computing offers a lot of positives, but don’t let the marketing gimmickry and trend setting hyperbole mislead you into thinking it is a universal panacea.
As with any other IT solution, you must assess what is being offered based upon the business need, the business risk and associated costs. Selecting a solution provider who understands the commercial impact and issues is important, but you are also looking for a trusted partner who will spell out the short-comings in any proposed solution, including cloud computing.
While it is easy enough to get carried away with the fashion, we can expect plenty of companies to go down the road of implementing cloud projects until the fashion bubble bursts and reality sets in; once that happens, IT managers who exercised proper business discretion and good judgment will be the ones who are expanding their departments and not looking for a new job. Just as any other challenge facing businesses today, cloud computing presents a whole new raft of opportunities and pitfalls to trap the unwary or reckless.