In the cloud world, it's easier than in the physical world to assign new network interface cards to a virtual machine that might link it to an insecure network, says HyTrust's Budko. An organization's existing firewalls would have no way of knowing the new NIC exists and that it needs to monitor traffic through it, she says. Potential threats like that make it important to independently assess, rather than blindly trust, a cloud vendor's security infrastructure.
Myth No. 8: If you're running VMs, you're doing cloud computing
Virtualization -- creating logical servers or storage that span multiple physical devices -- is one of the requirements of cloud computing. But having VMs doesn't mean you have cloud computing. To reap the full benefits of virtualization, IT or its cloud providers also must provide the ability to grow or shrink capacity as needed, provide pay-as-you-go pricing, and let users easily provision new servers and storage themselves as needed.
Letting users do some of the work of ordering virtual servers (especially those preconfigured for specific tasks) is a key money-saving goal of some cloud customers. But such self-service doesn't automatically happen just because you're running software such as VMware Infrastructure 3. Siemens, for example, had to make "a significant investment" in developing a standard catalog of virtual servers and related services users can order as needed from its private cloud, says Kollar.
Myth No. 9: Cloud computing is about technology
Technology makes cloud computing possible, but realizing cost savings and flexibility also requires that you have the right processes. The virtualization that underlies cloud computing "is very dynamic and allows a very high rate of change," says Budko, as customers move data and applications among physical devices. "What's missing is the ability to manage it smoothly," avoiding a sprawl of unused or underused virtual machines that soak up electricity, cooling, and management time and possibly create security risks -- just as unmanaged physical servers do.
Using standardized processes in the cloud can, on the other hand, increase efficiency. Using the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) management framework in combination with technologies such as virtualization, Siemens has reduced its IT management and administration task by 25 to 35 percent, says Kollar.
The truth about the cloud
What's the takeaway? That the cloud isn't a magic wonderland of carefree computing, but a complex resource that requires understanding and hard work to manage correctly. And that's no myth.
Read more about cloud computing in InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Channel.