So Far, So Good With Cloud Computing, But Executives Are Still Nervous


Joe McKendrick, Contributor

June 9, 2015

Let’s face it, the cloud will never be risk-free, and there is no shortage of glitches that erupt in in the cloud computing space. Unfortunately, service outages, security flaws and performance issues come with the territory. It’s also important to remember that outages, security flaws and performance issues are also part of on-premises systems as well.

For the most part, the consequences of cloud computing issues have not been catastrophic — though there have been plenty of relatively minor incidents. In a new survey of 232 executives, 67% reported have difficulties with their cloud efforts, ranging from outages to integration failures. However, only nine percent of this group say they experienced a cloud incident that resulted in significant damages. A majority, 55%, say damages were limited, and 34% consider rate them as “limited,” and 34%, sustained “medium” damages. While it’s significant that a total of 43% of this group consider themselves to have suffered medium to significant damages as a result of cloud issues, many of these mishaps are avoidable.

The risks with cloud — and ways to address these risks — were explored in a new survey from Economist Intelligence Unit. The survey, underwritten by Hitachi Data Systems, found that the things that keep executives up at night include fear of the loss of customer data (46%), loss of revenue (40%), breach of customer privacy (36%), unexpected extra costs (32%), and failure to deliver expected ROI (17%).

Seventy percent of executives say their organizations manage private clouds, while 22% use public cloud services. Most of the cloud projects were developed to address the nitty-gritty stuff: higher availability (55%), cost control (53%), and employee efficiency (50%).

Outages and integration are the issues that have dogged enterprise cloud users the most, followed by data breaches.  The most damaging incidents to date suffered among the 67% who experienced issues include the following:

  • Significant outage to a public or community cloud service  23%
  • Prolonged failure to integrate public or community cloud service with existing systems  20%
  • Data breach resulting from the use of a public or community cloud service  17%
  • Permanent loss of data from public or community cloud service  11%

There’s plenty of blame to go around for these problems, of course. It appears enterprises and their cloud vendors share the blame equally. Causes of these damaging incidents include the following:

  • Technical error on the part of organization  36%
  • Commercial (ie, contractual/customer relationship management) error on the part of cloud vendor  35%
  • Technical error on the part of the supplier  29%
  • Lack of technical skills in organization  27%
  • Vendor failure to meet requirements  21%

Of course, people in these organizations aren’t just sitting there, waiting for the next incident to happen. Executives report they are taking proactive measures to get more cloud-mindedness into their organizational psyche, including training  existing staff in relevant skills (48%), improving their vendor selection criteria (36%), and hiring more in-house cloud specialists (33%).

The authors of the EIU report also make recommendations for better managing any risks, including taking more care in their selection of cloud vendors, and drawing up a set of requirements and expectations they seek from these relationships. Of course, data security standards needs to be an important part of this picture. Vendors’ feet need to be held to the fire when it comes to security and performance — ultimately, responsibility goes back to the enterprise, and the way it manages vendor relationships.With cloud, there are many choices in the market.

Also, the report advises, give more weight to “factors beyond costs, such as cloud’s potential to improve business operations and boost employee efficiency.” Ultimately, the cloud has to not just meet existing business requirements, but to go above and beyond the needs of the enterprise.  The first mistake is going to cloud for cloud’s sake. The second mistake is to go to cloud simply to cut costs. Ultimately, success in the cloud is about expanding the horizons of the business, enabling it to do things and go places that were not possible before — such as creating digital products, rapidly launching new ventures, or tapping into big data analytics. The third mistake is not to act on these opportunities.

This article was written by Joe McKendrick from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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