Why cloud computing suddenly seems so hard and expensive

Enterprises are struggling with cost overruns, hiring, and security concerns, all problems that are easily overcome—and reflect a mature view of the cloud

A survey of 100 IT decision-makers in companies with 500 or more employees conducted by NetEnrich found that 85 percent claimed either moderate or extensive production use of cloud infrastructure. What’s not surprising, and what I’ve been saying here, 80 percent stated that they have moved at least a quarter of all workloads to the public cloud.

But there is trouble in paradise. The survey also finds the top cloud computing issue is security (68 percent), followed by IT spend and cost overruns (59 percent), day-to-day maintenance (36 percent), and root-cause analysis and post-mortems (22 percent). Also, 48 percent claim that their IT organization is finding the cost of recruiting cloud professionals to solve the cloud problems to be an ongoing issue.

The core issue is that the expectations are the wrong ones. While cloud providers and even cloud experts have been selling cloud computing as an operational cost-savings technology, the reality is that the cloud can be more expensive due to cost of the talent needed, of migration, and of cloud operations (cloudops).

This “cloud isn’t so cheap after all” conclusion is the dirty little secret of Silicon Valley right now, backed by a decade’s worth of data.

However, using the public cloud was never about ops savings—at least, it never should have been. The core value of the cloud is, and has always been, improved speed of change. Speed to change applications and data, as well as to build and remove core business systems.

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This speed benefit may have less value for companies that don’t change a great deal, but most companies live in markets that have frequent changes, so figuring out some way to keep up is a necessity for most, even if not quantified. In other words, building things that can change quickly is more important than just building things in today’s world.

By the way, the security concern cited in the survey is in reality not a concern. We crossed the security chasm for cloud computing some time ago, and any good security architect should be able to make things more secure in the cloud—especially considering the better cloud-based tools available for the public cloud. But it’s hard for many in IT to trust that security is OK, so they keep citing it as a concern, whether or not it really is an issue.

The theme of 2019 for the cloud is that things are getting harder. The big reason: We’re trying to solve the harder problems that have been pushed down the road in the prior years. All these problems can be solved, including how you justify the extra spending for cloud because well, it’s worth it.

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