Interest in cloud computing infrastructures has never been more intense. Members of TeraGo‘s senior team met in Calgary, Alberta recently with local IT executives from various industries to discuss the opportunities and challenges that the cloud offers. The lively morning session was facilitated by IT World Canada (ITWC) CIO Jim Love.
Love started the discussion by pointing out that growth in the adoption of cloud computing during the past two years has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Cloud computing has moved rapidly through the phases of blue-sky concept, skepticism, fad, early adoption, and is now moving to widespread adoption with irrefutable benefit cases.
Cloud Computing Adoption Trend
As the discussion unfolded it was clear most organizations are now using at least one cloud-based service to deliver application functionality to their internal end-user communities, their supply chain partners, or their customers.
As experience builds comfort with the reliability and effectiveness of cloud-based services, the attendees agreed organizations will adopt more such IT services in pursuit of the following benefits:
- Near-instant scalability to meet underestimated workloads
- Added application functionality
- Reduced time to market for a new product or service that is often dependent on the production status of a supporting applications
- Operating cost reduction
- Superior business continuity
- Outsourcing the management of the computing infrastructure
Attendees suggested organizations that are not currently using cloud computing are actively studying and experimenting with the idea. It was noted also that software vendors are making significant investments to port their software packages, historically targeted to an on-premise environment, for deployment to a cloud environment.
Cloud service providers, including TeraGo, are making significant infrastructure investments in network, computing capacity and storage to meet the growing demand from clients in every industry.
Migrating to the Cloud
“We encounter many executives who see potential value in adopting more cloud-based computing,” said Tony Ciciretto, President and CEO at TeraGo, “but they are unsure of how to start and become hesitant by the number of buzzwords some vendors toss around”. “Accessing TeraGo’s technical experience reduces risks associated with migrating to the cloud and the associated anxiety many of our clients initially feel”.
Nabeel Sherif, the Cloud Evangelist at TeraGo, reminded the group that “many organizations do not migrate their entire application portfolio to the cloud but operate with a hybrid IT environment that consists of multiple cloud services and some on-premise applications.” While agreeing with this observation, Love pointed out that such a situation re-introduces the problem of application and data silos that the industry has worked so hard to reduce since the 1980’s.
Cloud Security Concerns
Cloud security concerns dominated a large part of the meeting. The IT Director for several restaurants described a recent ransomware incident at a US restaurant chain that forced the closure of hundreds of their restaurant operations for almost a week. Millions of dollars were lost. The participants agreed that the growing number of incidents like that was forcing them to allocate more resources and budget to understanding various breach risks and to improving security defenses.
Anis Edraki, an Account Manager at TeraGo, suggested that “security risks in a cloud environment are no higher than in an on-premise environment contrary to a widely held opinion”.
Love urged the participants to expand their internal security discussion to include resilience, business continuity, containment, and recovery as he suggested even well-managed companies will face security breaches.
Cloud Regulatory Issues
Some participants at the table – especially those from the private sector – expressed concerns about becoming entangled with the United States Patriot Act. As a result, they insist that data managed by a cloud service provider be managed in a Canada-resident cloud.
A member of the management team at an Alberta University added that their regulatory and internal reporting needs interfered with the online performance of their production cloud application. It forced them to construct separate reporting data marts. It solved the problem, but at a material added cost.
Starting the Cloud Journey
The industry participants agreed that many organizations begin the cloud journey quite unwittingly when an executive contracts for an industry-specific or function-specific service without the involvement of IT. In these circumstances there’s typically no consideration of security, data privacy or disaster recovery and IT only finds out about the service when a request to export data to the cloud or import data from the cloud service into the on-premise environment.
Love said given the number of cloud issues that can derail a firm, finding reliable partners that have the skills and experience to assist you is key to success.