3 big screw-ups you can expect from cloud providers in 2012

Despite all the promising developments in cloud computing, we'll still have to deal with a few clunkers

Cloud computing is going strong, and I suspect it'll peak this year or next. I know this because the hype is almost out of control and misinformation is plentiful -- the classic signs of an impending peak. It's a new technology, but the same old hype cycle.

Although much good is going on in the cloud, as both the technology and the underlying architectures mature, the hype means we'll also see cloud providers pull some real blunders. Here are three you can expect this year.

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Blunder No. 1: Security. No one understands how to do security in the cloud, but everyone thinks they do. Everyone has a solution, but cloud security is more complex and more expensive than most providers understand -- specifically, the need for identity-based security down to the fine-grained service layers. Most cloud computing providers aren't yet smart about this.

Moreover, the features demanded by customers these days are around business functions rather than security or infrastructure improvements. The providers create road maps from these demands, meaning security is down the list. This will lead to well-publicized -- and entirely avoidable -- hacks.

Blunder No. 2: Cost of migration. We've all heard the pitch: Migrating to the cloud is cheap and easy. It's neither, typically. Yet most organizations assume it is, significantly underestimating the cost. The cloud providers shoulder much of the blame, as customers rely on the information they provide, and that information is often incorrect and sometimes even misleading.

In most cases, I find that moving systems to private and/or public clouds provides good ROI, even accounting for real migration costs. The issue is that adopters who underestimate the costs will end up with project overruns that in turn cascade into failures as the cloud migration projects get larger and larger. As a result, the business may give up prematurely and waste the investment, IT and/or the vendor may cut corners to rein in the expenses at the price of bigger problems later, and so on.

Blunder No. 3: Performance. The number of cloud users continues to grow, whether they're considering SaaS, IaaS, or PaaS. However, this growth comes with a performance penalty, and chances are we'll start hearing about performance issues in late 2012 and early 2013 as the providers feel their growing pains.

After all, the providers need to increase their numbers of subscribers, thus providing more for less as competition gets heated. That translates to less money for growing the infrastructure and keeping up with the jump in subscribers. Can you say AOL circa 1996?

This article, "3 big screw-ups you can expect from cloud providers in 2012," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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