Busted: Three myths of cloud computing

In David Linthicum's first post for InfoWorld's Cloud Computing blog, three oft-repeated falsehoods about the cloud get their due

First of all, it's an honor to take over the Cloud Computing blog from whurley, who has done a tremendous job. I was an avid follower of this blog, and I only hope that my contributions will be nearly as valuable.

For those of you who don't know me, I've been writing the Real World SOA blog for InfoWorld since 2004, as well as doing the SOA Report podcast for almost as long. Those who follow me already know that my goal is to bring the enterprise to the clouds, and for years I have put my money and my time where my mouth is as CEO of two cloud computing companies and CTO and founder of another one. Indeed, I feel so strongly about cloud computing and the enterprise that I just completed a book titled "Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise: A Step-by-Step Guide."

[ Check out InfoWorld's cloud computing InfoClip, a three-minute animation that provides a crisp, cogent overview. ]

For my first post to this blog, I want to address three myths about cloud computing that have a habit of getting in the way of rational discussion. As with any overhyped and overpublicized emerging technology space, dubious information gets repeated so many times it's considered fact. Let's burst some bubbles, shall we?

1. Cloud computing is a throwback to the traditional timesharing model. Sure, if the "traditional time sharing model" means that I can get my disk space service from one provider, a database service from another, and my on-demand testing platform from a third. Try that in 1982. Cloud computing is unique in that components of IT can be provided as a service in much more granular ways, meaning that I can consume as many cloud computing resources as needed, and mix and match them into an architecture that addresses specific requirements.

2. Cloud computing is always cheaper. It's often cheaper, but not always. Like anything in the world of IT, it depends. It depends upon your current investment in IT infrastructure, which can't be recovered. It depends upon the types of applications you're looking to deploy in the clouds. And it depends upon the cost of risk within your particular business. Cloud computing has the potential to bring a great deal of value through efficiencies and cost reduction, but you have to run the business models for your specific enterprise and problem domain.

3. Cloud computing is unsecure. Security concerns scare IT away from the cloud computing, but most are based upon misinformation. Truth be told, most cloud computing implementations I've dealt with are more secure than their on-premise counterparts, considering that cloud service providers tend to have a more methodical security plan in place that leverages more advanced security technology and standards. Cloud computing means that your data and processes are in a more federated state, but with planning, cloud-based applications, processes, and data can be just as -- if not more -- secure.

These are only the most common cloud computing myths. We'll get to more later. Meanwhile, I realize there's not only misinformation, but also a substantial amount of cynicism about cloud computing in the IT community. This blog is intended to advise you on getting the most out of the cloud computing solutions available -- not to convince you how great the cloud is. So as this blog evolves, please do let me know your observations, questions, ideas, or concerns. Cloud computing is at an early stage and determining best practices is a collaborative process.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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