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The Cloud is Your Friend: Answers to Misconceptions of Cloud Computing

by David Moorman, President

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Change can be a source of apprehension for a lot of businesses, especially when it comes to critical data you use to run your operations. New technology definitely meets resistance because it is unknown and not yet understood widely. Cloud computing is one of those technologies that business professionals fear, so I thought I’d dispel some of the myths associated with it.

My data won’t be as accessible in the cloud.
Some business professionals are uncomfortable with their servers and data being stored in the cloud. Without equipment physically at their office, they fear they won’t be able to get to their data when they need it. In reality, cloud computing is meant to maximize access to your data. Since your data is delivered over the Internet, you are no longer tied to any one physical machine. Any device that connects to the Internet is now your information highway. So whether you are at the office, home, or on the road you can still get to necessary files and applications.

My provider will be able to hold my data hostage.
Cloud computing is not a way that respectable providers are going to some how lock you into using their services. A reputable managed IT company is not going to deny you access to your information and should in fact have processes in place to transfer your data should you ever want to switch. Reputation is more important in the business of IT than wielding power over clients. Additionally, since the premise of cloud computing is to make your data more accessible, you can get to it whenever you want. Your data is literally at your fingertips, available from anywhere.

My data won’t be as secure in the cloud.

Having direct physical access to your equipment and data is what most companies are used to, but just because you can reach out and touch it doesn’t mean its safe. Having your data stored at your office can create a false sense of security. What if someone breaks in and steals your equipment or an employee tampers with it after hours? The cloud offers both physical and virtual security measures that may not be available to the typical SMB. Temperature control, fire suppression systems, around the clock monitoring, controlled access, enterprise firewall security, and virus protections are just a few of the features that come included with hosting your data in the cloud. Still unsure? Ask your provider for a tour of their data center facility to see exactly how they will treat your information.

Sharing physical resources in the cloud creates security issues.
The cloud often uses virtualization to accomplish high rates of uptime and to minimize the amount of physical equipment needed. Virtualizing means that many computers can be located on one physical machine. For example, instead of running one copy of Windows on your PC, with virtualization you could run two or three copies that all act as different PC’s on one physical machine. In the cloud, many companies share the same physical server but each company’s data is run on separate virtual servers. So what if that one server gets infected, won’t it spread to all virtual servers? Each virtual server has its own licensing, its own firewall, its own anti-virus software and so on. Just like two ships passing in the night, virtual servers run parallel but never touch.

Sharing physical resources in the cloud increases my risk of downtime.
With many companies running on one machine, you may be tempted to think the cloud is unstable. In a virtualized environment, if any one physical server crashes, all the virtual instances are easily moved to another resource so no downtime is experienced. Providers offering cloud computing should be able to give you the percentage of guaranteed uptime they offer. Additionally, if your business experiences a spike in credit card transactions, or an increase in the number of users accessing the network during certain times of the day or week, any available resources within the server farm are temporarily given to you and when you no longer need it, that bandwidth is reallocated somewhere else.

While converting your traditional network to one that utilizes the cloud can be daunting, it’s like any other new technology. You must evaluate the risks and benefits separating truth from irrational fears that may be based on the way you’ve always done things. The cloud is your friend--exploring its possibilities can offer huge time and cost savings.

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