Cloud services like Dropbox and Microsoft’s SkyDrive have been phenomenal commercial successes, giving consumers a quick and simple way to manage the task of backing up and distributing their documents, device settings, and other important information.
Cloud computing is also one of the latest technological trends which has caught on in the corporate world. As of 2014, a report by RightScale revealed that over 85% of organizations were already using public cloud services, such as those offered by VMware, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon Web Services.
Despite these phenomenal adoption rates, however, “the cloud” is still a very new business model and method of managing IT. This leaves much room for improvement to stem the apprehensions of those who are still leery to make the switch, and more importantly, of those who already have.
Here are three technologies that could be improved to increase the adoption of cloud computing in the corporate world:
1. Standardization. The most important factor in switching to the cloud is that a company feels it controls its data, software, and business just as if it were managed traditionally. This feeling of control is hampered significantly by a lack of formal and de facto standards for managing cloud services.
Even the U.S government is concerned about the lack of cloud standardization, and the Department of Defense recently hired Fusion PPT, a cloud computing strategy firm, to help identify cloud standards.
For instance, lacking a consistent standard for cloud interoperability makes a company unsure whether they will be able to safely retrieve and move their information from one cloud service to another, or even away from the cloud completely. One of the riskiest parts of cloud computing is an outage, or even worse, a complete closure of service. Companies want surety that they will always be able to export and manage their information in an understandable and compatible way.
The lack of standards also makes it difficult for companies to understand the choices they have when looking for cloud solutions. As a measurement unit, for example, Amazon Web Services uses the ‘Elastic Compute Unit’, Google uses the ‘Google Compute Engine Unit’, and Microsoft Azure measures their services using processor clock speed.
By and large, a lack of standardization works against cloud computing on many levels, and discourages competition.
2. Security. For small businesses, cloud computing may be a more secure option than traditional IT. A small business has much to benefit from the enterprise class storage, security and updates it gains on a cloud infrastructure.
But large companies that already have an enterprise class infrastructure are a different story. In these environments, it is easily a better idea to keep information secured tightly behind corporate walls where it can’t be accessed by even the most prying of eyes, than inside another company’s walls, alongside other companies’ data.
A study conducted by the Ponemon Institute and Thales e-Security showed that over 50% of their subjects were storing sensitive information, unprotected in the cloud. The study also found that many of the respondents thought cloud computing impacted their security in a negative way.
Besides world class encryption methods, which cloud companies are now widely adopting, it is imperative that world-class security measures be implemented and promoted by any cloud company that wants serious customers.
3. The Internet. It is well known that in simplistic terms, “cloud” is a euphemism for “Internet”. All cloud based applications and information are stored somewhere across the World Wide Web, in somebody’s server. At the client and server ends of the operation, both parties are trusting in a reliable and fast Internet connection to keep them tethered, and to deliver the data they need, when they need it.
This is a problem in the United States, where the world’s major cloud services are centered. Despite being the birthplace of the Internet, and even the PC revolution, the U.S has fallen behind the rest of the world, and in a study by Ookla speedtest, ranks 31st in the world in terms of download speed, and 42nd in terms of upload speed.
While fiber optic Internet connections are common in other parts of the world, such as South Korea, most cities in the United States are still getting it slowly. This makes a problem not only for residents of the United States, but residents in other countries using U.S cloud services.
Even the rest of the civilized world doesn’t have a net infrastructure capable of carrying the burden that “the cloud” may soon require of it. As high quality video content from websites like YouTube and Netflix has come to dominate the majority of Internet traffic in the U.S, the Internet is becoming literally congested in many places. As 4K video, which is four times the size of HD 1080p video, launches on some websites, this traffic is bound to get even worse, and the Internet even more bogged down.
The Internet’s infrastructure needs to speed up with the demands that the world is putting on it, for the sake of “the cloud”, and for the sake of everything else.