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Common Pitfalls And Blind Spots Of Cloud Computing

..and how to spot them

As more businesses understand the advantages of cloud computing, more are moving their entire IT environment to the cloud. However, all that glitters isn’t gold, and while cloud promises many benefits like flexibility, simplified IT infrastructure and enhanced capability, there are still many pitfalls and blind spots to avoid.

When first starting on your ‘total cloud’ journey the many options and providers available can be overwhelming, especially when they all seem to be offering similar benefits. Here is a list of common pitfalls and blind spots to help you make a more informed decision about which cloud option is best for your business.

Data security

The security of your data is becoming increasingly critical. And while in many cases your data may actually be safer in the cloud than saved on an on-premise server, not all options will offer the same protection of your data.

Be aware of solutions where your data is moved into a data centre, which is really just deploying infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) with a provider and is more of a quasi-cloud option. The problem here is it can be difficult for SMEs to have the required expertise to make a decision on what is best for their business and then need to rely on a support company to make the decision. Budget also plays a part and due to prohibitive costs, many SMEs choose to go with less safe options when it comes to protective systems and firewalls.

In addition, with the rising instances of malware and Trojan virus attacks, you want to ensure your business is protected as much as possible. In most cases, unless you have explicitly requested it from your cloud provider, snapshots or hourly backups are not part of the offering. Without any type of protection, malware like CryptoLocker, can spread through the entire business which can be devastating. Look for options where there are safeguards in place to detect these types of threats and restore systems to previous backups when required.

Advanced technology

Absolutely, cloud can give your business access to advanced technology. However, in some cases you will also have to ensure you have the expertise and resources available to leverage cloud, this applies particularly to public cloud options.

A common complaint of public cloud options is that on paper they can look straightforward and inexpensive. However, the reality is often they are extremely complicated and getting it wrong can be very costly.

For private cloud providers, be aware of the initial upfront cost as this could, and often does mean, that the provider needs to use your money to purchase the equipment (i.e. basic IaaS offering). This is important as you want to be in a private cloud that is provided by a financially strong business – meaning they have the resources to ensure the infrastructure used is state of the art. You want to be sure they have the latest software and hardware, as in firewalls and virus protection – not a commercial grade, but cloud grade for hosting providers.

When you are using options that are essentially IaaS, everything is costed separately and can work out quite expensive if you tick the wrong box or the combination of support you choose isn’t right for your business. Instead, look for options that are all inclusive so there is less likelihood of surprises at the end of the month when the bill arrives.

Migration to the cloud

This is certainly one area businesses should pay attention to as an unsuccessful migration can cause serious issues, resulting in downtime, lost data and lost business.

Before you migrate fully to the new cloud platform, ensure you test before you go live. It’s also important to have safety mechanisms in place so if things go wrong you can correct issues or even revert to the old system if need be. An experienced and well-established cloud provider should have this process down pat and should be able to share plenty of references of successful migrations for you to check.

The shift towards total cloud environments is gathering pace and with the many models and options available to businesses to achieve this reality, there also come many pitfalls and blind spots. The best advice is to do your due diligence, research your options, speak with previous clients of prospective providers but still remain open to change.