Ten 'dangerous and misleading' cloud myths: Gartner

Ten 'dangerous and misleading' cloud myths: Gartner

Gartner vice president David Mitchell Smith highlights most common misconceptions on cloud CIOs should look out for

Cloud computing is uniquely susceptible to the perils of myths due to the nature, confusion and hype surrounding it, says David Mitchell Smith, Gartner vice president and fellow.

Myths are sometimes harmless but they do have an effect on how we approach solutions and can impede innovation, he states in a recent research paper. “Many myths are rooted in fear and misunderstanding. They can drive decisions and strategies based on fear and this leads to oversimplifications and mantras that are the real dangers.”

Even with a mostly agreed on formal definition, multiple perspectives and agendas still conspire to mystify the subject ever more. Add the incessant hype and there can be a resultant confusion that permeates IT (and beyond) today, he says.

He lists some of the most “dangerous and misleading” cloud myths.

Myth 1: The cloud is always about money

The most prevalent myth about the cloud is that it always saves money, he states.

While prices are dropping, especially for infrastructure as a service (IaaS), not all cloud service pricing is coming down (for example, most software as a service [SaaS]). Assuming that the cloud always saves money can lead to career-limiting promises. Saving money may end up one of the benefits, but it should not be taken for granted.

Read more: Five big ideas to avoid doing stupid digital stuff

Myth 2: You have to be cloud to be good

This is the manifestation of rampant "cloud washing." Some cloud washing is accidental and a result of legitimate confusion, but some is also based on a mistaken mantra (fed by hype) that something cannot be "good" unless it is cloud. IT organisations are also increasingly calling many things cloud as part of their efforts to gain funding and meet nebulous cloud demands and strategies. The resultant myth is that people are falling into the trap of believing that if something is good it has to be cloud.

Myth 3: Cloud should be used for everything

Related to Myth 2, he says this refers to the belief that the actual characteristics of the cloud are applicable to, or desirable for, everything. Clearly, there are some use cases where there is a great fit, however, not all applications and workloads benefit from the cloud. Unless there are cost savings, moving a legacy application that doesn't change is not a good candidate.

Read more: The front runner

Myth 4: "The CEO said so" is a cloud strategy

When asked about what their cloud strategy is, many companies don't have one and the default is often (stated or not) that they are just doing what their CEO wants. This is not a cloud strategy. A cloud strategy begins by identifying business goals and mapping potential benefits of the cloud to them, while mitigating the potential drawbacks. Cloud should be thought of as a means to an end. The end must be specified first.

Myth 5: We need one cloud strategy or vendor

Cloud computing is not one thing and a cloud strategy has to be based on this reality. Cloud services are broad and span multiple levels (IaaS, SaaS), models ("lift and shift”, cloud native), scope (internal, external) and applications. A cloud strategy should be based on aligning business goals with potential benefits. Those goals and benefits are different in various use cases and should be the driving force for businesses, rather than any attempts to standardize on one offering or strategy.

Myth 6: Cloud is less secure than on-premises capabilities

Cloud computing is perceived as less secure. This is more of a trust issue than based on any reasonable analysis of actual security capabilities. To date, there have been very few security breaches in the public cloud — most breaches continue to involve on-premises data centre environments. While cloud providers should have to demonstrate their capabilities, once they have done so there is no reason to believe their offerings cannot be secure.

Assuming that the cloud always saves money can lead to career-limiting promises.

David Mitchell Smith, Gartner

Read more: Gartner to CIOs: Flip IT leadership from legacy first to digital first

Myth 7: Cloud Is not for mission-critical use

Cloud computing is not all or nothing. It is being adopted in steps and in specific cases. Therefore, it is not surprising that early use cases are mainly not for mission-critical systems. However, many organisations have progressed beyond early use cases and experimentation and are utilising the cloud for mission-critical workloads. There are also many enterprises (not just small startups any more) that are "born in the cloud" and run their business (clearly mission-critical) completely in the cloud.

Myth 8: Cloud = data centre

Most cloud decisions are not (and should not be) about completely shutting down data centres and moving everything to the cloud. Nor should a cloud strategy be equated with a data centre strategy. Neither should it be done in a vacuum — there should be data centre space for things not in the cloud and, if things are moved out of the data centre, there are implications. But they are not the same thing. In general, data centre outsourcing, data centre modernisation and data centre strategies are not synonymous with the cloud.

Myth 9: Migrating to the cloud means you automatically get all cloud characteristics

Don't assume that "migrating to the cloud" means that the characteristics of the cloud are automatically inherited from lower levels (like IaaS), . Cloud attributes are not transitive. Distinguish between applications hosted in the cloud from cloud services. There are "half steps" to the cloud that have some benefits (there is no need to buy hardware, for example) and these can be valuable. However, they do not provide the same outcomes.

Myth 10: Virtualisation = private cloud

Virtualisation is a commonly used enabling technology for cloud computing. However, it is not the only way to implement cloud computing. Not only is it not necessary, it is not sufficient either. Even if virtualisation is used (and used well), the result is not cloud computing. This is most relevant in private cloud discussions where highly virtualised, automated environments are common and, in many cases, are exactly what is needed. Unfortunately, these are often erroneously described as "private cloud”.

In light of these, he says, CIOs should never assume everyone has the same understanding, view, expectations or even definition of cloud computing.

Avoid "one size fits all" and overly simplistic answers to complex situations,” he states. The cloud is not one thing.

He likewise advises: “Maintain sight of business goals and align the potential benefits (and drawbacks) of cloud computing with them.”

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