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Afraid of the cloud? How to handle your fears

Sharon Gaudin | May 2, 2014
A study released this week shows that 73% of IT executives believe cloud providers are hiding performance problems.

A study released this week shows that 73% of IT executives believe cloud providers are hiding performance problems.

Industry analysts say IT professionals are smart to be cautious, but added that they need to do their homework and ask the right questions before selecting a vendor.

"I don't know if it's a matter of distrust," said Jagdish Rebello, an analyst with IHS. "They are wary of the hype. The enterprise IT folks are being very, very cautious about their migration to the cloud. They see the cost benefits but when they look at reliability and security, there is essentially a fear of going wholeheartedly to the cloud."

Enterprises are still fairly new to the cloud computing phenomenon, but have long read headlines about cloud outages and security breaches, which, said Rebello, is enough to make any executive nervous.

"I'm not sure that cloud vendors are hiding information," Rebello said. "It could be more that there's just a lot of information IT people don't know. The comfort level is still missing."

A study by Compuware Corp., a provider of cloud-based collaboration and performance management tools, found that nearly three quarters of enterprise IT professionals worry that cloud providers are hiding problems at an infrastructure or platform level, and that thos problems could have an impact on application performance.

The study was undertaken by Germany-based Research In Action, an independent research and consulting company. The firm surveyed 740 senior IT professionals at companies around the world.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at ZK Research, said it is possible that a cloud provider may whitewash issues like compute process speed and security problems. "Yeah, [the fears are] justified," he said. "You pay for a service and hope it works. Also, companies have no real control over the hiring policies and security checks that the cloud provider uses."

However, Kerravala noted that enterprises simply must do their homework before choosing a cloud provider.

IT should be up front about security concerns, and should ask vendors about hiring practices, what kind of internal audits they use and how they protect against threats. The IT execs should ask for audit information, performance benchmarks and where data is going to be stored, since some companies are mandated to store their data in the U.S.

Kerravala also recommended that IT operations perform their own performance benchmarks of a cloud provider's offering. Track the performance of the service and if it seems to be declining, call the cloud provider out on it.

"But I will say, though, most cloud providers probably have better security controls than most companies," he added.

Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst, said he's not surprised that IT execs are anxious about the cloud. It's a new area and anyone jumping in, even now, is still considered an early adopter.


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