Embrace cloud-based infrastructure for what is, look past the hype

    Embrace cloud-based infrastructure for what is, look past the hype

    Whenever some sort of new technology becomes mainstream, the hype surrounding it becomes unbearable. To truly understand these new tools, you have to look past the hype and see what is actually being offered. Fortunately, tech hype progresses in an easily monitored cycle.

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    Right now, we seem to be preparing for the ascent out of the trough of disillusionment. We’ve passed the negative press brought upon by incidents like the celebrity iCloud scandal, and now we can begin the slow climb towards embracement of the technology. First though, we need to look back at all the things that have been said about cloud computing.

    That having been said, here are the joys and follies of the five most commonly touted features of cloud computing.

    It’s Accessible.
    Through the power of cloud-computing, when a worker is on vacation or on a business trip they can access the same resources that they can from their workstation. The simple ability to access these resources is amazing, as it removes the necessity of both an internal infrastructure, all while improving the efficiency of the whole. Sadly, this accessibility, without appropriate restriction, is also a security risk. The bottom line is that if your system is made more accessible to your end-users, then it’s being made accessible to everyone else.

    Maintenance, or lack thereof.
    Maintenance in the cloud often goes one of two ways. Your cloud provider could be amazing — handling issues, installing updates, and keeping everything running smoothly. If that’s the case, then you’ve reduced the need for the services of your IT department and in-house infrastructure, thus significantly reducing overhead. Unfortunately, your provider may alternately leave a lot to be desired. Rather than staying on top of issues as your in-house IT staff once did, your provider may instead do the bare minimum, only completing tasks when they’re specifically told to do so. Micromanagement is expensive, and the potential service outages resulting from poor service can be costlier than maintaining your old in-house IT infrastructure ever was. It all comes down to quality of service. If your provider is great, then things will run smoothly. If they’re not, then things are going to come to a grinding halt.

    It’s reliable, in a sense.
    Cloud computing an interesting example of IT reliability. It shifts the reliability of a system from a reliance on hardware functionality, to the availability of services like the internet. Cloud-based infrastructure is less likely to break down; however, without internet access those functional systems will sit idle. It’s a tradeoff, hardware failure was the previous point-of-failure, while the internet dependence fills the same role in cloud-based infrastructures.

    It’s more or less secure.
    This heading sounds ambiguous, and that’s exactly the point. IT security in the cloud is one of those extremely hyped topics, so let’s keep this as concise as possible. Code Spaces, was bankrupted due to poor cloud security practices. Examples like this provide generous justification for improving cloud based security. As a result, cloud service providers are often extremely focused on security. At the same time, the reason for this security mindedness is the awareness that, in addition to the standard IT security usual risks, the new features upon which the cloud is built open up new attack vectors. While security in the cloud is often top of the line, there are also bound to be new exploits which circumvent that security.

    Money.
    Using cloud based infrastructure is a lot like renting a home. It can be more cost effective to rent; however, in other cases it can be more cost effective to mortgage or outright buy a property. Whether or not you get a cost-effective deal for your cloud-based infrastructure comes down to what your needs are, and planning accordingly. Just remember, when you’re working with an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) model, you get what you pay for.

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