As we enter 2018, the growth of cloud computing continues. Forecasts released by Gartner at the beginning of 2017 estimated an 18 percent growth in the cloud computing industry.
With a “Trends in Cloud Computing” study by CompTIA showing that over 90 percent of companies use some form of cloud computing, lots of organizations have a vested interest in the future of the cloud computing industry. This article details six important cloud computing challenges for 2018 and their possible solutions.
When you finish reading, you’ll be better placed to understand the current state of cloud computing and identify any potential risk mitigation strategies you need to take for cloud computing, particularly for mission-critical applications you might run in the cloud.
Due to the nature of cloud computing services and how they involve storing data without knowing its precise physical location, data security remains a concern for both prospective adopters of the technology and existing users.
However, the security concerns associated with storing things in the cloud are more nuanced than merely not being able to see where data is stored. A number of data breaches involving cloud systems made the headlines in 2017, including the story of financial giant Deloitte having its cloud data compromised.
These combined with the natural cautiousness of trusting third parties with data makes information security a perennial challenge in cloud computing. However, with each breach comes enhanced security in cloud systems designed to ensure similar breaches never happen again. Improvements include the use of multi-factor authentication, implemented to ensure users are who they claim to be.
Truth be told, security for most cloud providers is watertight, and breaches in the cloud are rare—when they do occur, though, they get all the headlines. To minimize risk, double-check that your cloud provider uses secure user identity management and access controls. It’s also important to check which data security laws your cloud provider must follow. On the whole, cloud data security is as safe, if not safer, than on-premise data security.
Performance is a consistent challenge in cloud computing, particularly for businesses that rely on cloud providers to help them run mission-critical applications. When a business moves to the cloud it becomes dependant on the cloud provider, meaning that any outages suffered by the cloud provider also affect the business.
The risk of outages in the cloud is not negligible—even the major players in cloud computing are susceptible. In February 2017, an AWS Amazon S3 outage caused disruptions for many websites and applications, and even sent them offline.
There is a need, therefore, for some kind of site recovery solution for data held in cloud-based services. Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)—the replication and hosting of servers by a third party to provide failover in the event of a man-made or natural catastrophe—is a way companies can maintain business continuity even when disaster strikes.
The success of any movement towards cloud adoption comes down to the expertise at your disposal. The complexity of cloud technology and the sheer range of tools makes it difficult to keep up with the options available for all your use cases.
Organizations need to strike a balance between having the right expertise and the cost of hiring dedicated cloud specialists. The optimum solution to this challenge is a to work with a trusted cloud Managed Service Provider (MSP). Cloud MSPs have the manpower, tools and experience to manage multiple and complex customer environments simultaneously. The MSP takes complete responsibility for cloud processes and implementing them as the customer desires. This way, organizations can stay focused on their business goals.
All the main cloud providers have quite detailed pricing plans for their services that explicitly define costs of processing and storage data in the cloud. The problem is that cost management is often an issue when using cloud services because of the sheer range of options available.
Businesses often waste money on unused workloads or unnecessarily expensive storage, and 26 percent of respondents in this cloud survey cited cost management as a major challenge in the cloud. The solution is for organizations to monitor their cloud usage in detail and constantly optimize their choice of services, instances, and storage. You can monitor and optimize cloud implementation by using a cloud cost management tool such as CloudHealth or consulting a cloud cost expert.
There are also some practical cost calculators available which clarify cloud costs, including Amazon’s AWS Simple Monthly Calculator, and NetApp’s calculators for both AWS and Azure cloud storage.
Cloud governance, meaning the set of policies and methods used to ensure data security and privacy in the cloud, is a huge challenge. Confusion often arises about who takes responsibility for data stored in the cloud, who should be allowed use cloud resources without first consulting IT personnel, and how employees handle sensitive data.
The only solution is for the IT department at your organization to adapt its existing governance and control processes to incorporate the cloud and ensure everyone is on the same page. This way, proper governance, compliance, and risk management can be enforced.
Cloud Optimization Strategy
Finding the right strategy for cloud adoption is another important challenge. Many businesses moved to the cloud using a segmented approach in which isolated use cases, projects, and applications were migrated to cloud providers. The problem then for many companies is a lack of any holistic organization-wide cloud strategy.
Finding the right strategy for cloud adoption comes back to the issue of cloud governance. With everyone on the same page thanks to robust cloud governance and clear policies, organizations can create a unified and optimized strategy for how they use the cloud.
Even though there are significant challenges involved in using the cloud as a business, it is vital to note that there are solutions available to overcome these potential issues.
- To overcome security concerns, ensure your cloud provider has strict user identity and strong access controls, such as multi-factor authentication.
- To mitigate the risk of outages, make sure you have a business continuity plan in place. With DRaaS, your business continuity plan is also more simple and accessible.
- To provide your organization with access to requisite expertise for a smooth transition to the cloud, enlist the help of a cloud managed service provider.
- Use cloud cost management tools, calculators, and consult cost experts to make clear how much your investment in the cloud will cost your business.
- Maintain proper governance to establish a cloud optimization strategy, and enforce appropriate risk management and compliance.
The benefits of markedly reduced capital expenditure on hardware, easy scalability to growing workloads, and increased real-time collaboration with employee access to projects, all make cloud computing a worthwhile investment for almost any organization.