Nightmare on Cloud Street

A ghostly image of a pumpkin smiling

Since its creation, the Cloud seems to have cast a spell upon the digital world, placing vendors, CIOs, and everyone in between into some sort of computing trance.

Keen to wield the power of the Cloud, mega-vendors have been grappling with innovation, development, and deployment to try and beat out their competitors. And it seems these vendors are hellbent on infiltrating the IT dreams of organisations around the world to coerce them into adopting all the Cloud products and services.

Such schemes have faced renewed ferocity as more and more organisations review their working practices and IT infrastructure to accommodate the changing landscapes of the professional and commercial worlds.  

Although many organisations are spellbound by the Cloud (and contrary to what the vendors would like you to believe), there are a few skeletons in the server cupboard…

One, two, Cloud’s coming for you…

With all its seemingly magical properties, the Cloud is an enticing prospect for many organisations.

The subscription-based model aids organisations with budgeting and enables many to avoid gruesome upfront fees. Plus, because the responsibility of upgrading is primarily placed on the vendors, you won’t have to conjure up the resources to access the latest technologies.

The Cloud is currently the star of the computing world, and perhaps its biggest feat is the scalability of Cloud-based products and services. Organisations can use as much, or as little, as required, and only pay for the resources they use.

Also favoured for its reliability and flexibility, the Cloud has enabled organisations around the world to keep pace with the changing requirements of the modern world, such as flexible and remote working solutions.

It would seem, then, that the Cloud offers a solution to some of the demons that organisations battle with when it comes to their on-premise technologies.

But, all that glitters is not gold.

So, what kind of ghouls are lurking around the corner on Cloud Street?

Three, four, better lock the door…

Double, double, toil, and trouble, cybercrime and security fumbles.

Yes, that’s right, security and data leakages are major issues working against the Cloud.

In fact, in a Cloud security report, it was found that 94% of cybersecurity professionals are moderately to extremely concerned about Cloud security. That’s a pretty scary figure. And, to make matters worse, it comes from the professionals…

So, why exactly is the fear of Cloud security peaking at such high levels?

The expansive nature of the Cloud, ultimately, offers a great many more apples for cybercriminals to target in an organisation’s IT barrel. The more functionality, the more there is to go wrong, including misconfigurations, insufficient access management, insecure interfaces, and limited visibility from an organisational viewpoint.

We’ve talked about Cloud’s accessibility and ability to improve data sharing being big advantages for organisations and some of its key selling points, but these same fundamentals also serve as its greatest downfalls.

With migrations on the up-and-up and more workloads moving to the Cloud, cybersecurity experts are still being exposed to new and different issues when it comes to protecting these workloads. Because most of the existing security tools are not dynamic or robust enough to keep up with the virtual Cloud environment, many organisations are presented with largely unchartered and newly demanding security challenges.

These problems are only further compounded by the fact that organisations around the world are unsure exactly where their Cloud service providers’ responsibilities end, and theirs begin. This can result in a few chinks in the Cloud armour and leave organisations open to attack – an issue that has been massively on the rise in recent times.

The problem with the blurred lines when it comes to where the responsibility lies is a matter of past fears. Oracle has, to date, placed support liabilities on the shoulders of its customers for its on-premise products, so who is to say that history won’t repeat itself with the Cloud?

Ultimately, the security of your systems in the Cloud comes down to who is supporting them. So, before going ‘all in’, make sure your chosen vendor aligns with your requirements and security frameworks.

If responsibilities around the security of the Cloud gives you the fear, you could always consider flexing its flexibility and only migrate specific workloads. This way, your organisation could benefit from the strengths of a Cloud solution, as well as on-premise technologies, without completely surrendering control of your systems to a vendor.

Otherwise, it may seem a lot like digging your own grave.

Five, six, custom code is ditched…

The second fly in the ointment is customisations.

Much in the same way that people are unique, organisations are too.

Sure, these organisations might all have similar tech foundations (e.g. a database) but they will have their own business processes, data management approaches, visions, and datasets.

These individual elements of a working business model are largely accommodated, and facilitated, by customised versions of software that have been purposefully developed to align with specific business needs. These, too, often secure organisations strong competitive advantages.

So, you might well have invested a considerable amount of time tinkering with your on-premise technologies to get those customisations just so but, much to your horror, such efforts cannot be translated into the Cloud.

This is why standardised versions of Cloud software can prove problematic.

As is currently stands, current Cloud offerings have not been around long enough to provide the customisations that on-premise technology can. This is because, unlike with on-premise technology, the subscription-based Cloud model means you do not have access to the code and, therefore, cannot customise the platform as a shared environment.

It’s more of a “one-size-fits-all” situation (which is truly an ironic statement).

If an organisation does want to access customisations in the Cloud, then it’s likely that high levels of IT support would be needed, resulting in a higher cost of ownership. Not exactly what you were going for when you considered the Cloud as a less pricey alternative to the petrifying costs of vendor support.

With the Cloud, there is not an option to transfer all your organisation’s current customisations. You may be forced to redevelop these customisations (even those on stable systems) to avoid losing them. But, in some cases, it might not even be possible to do so yet.

So, customisations in the Cloud are (more or less) dead in the water. But what other major concern is haunting organisations who are looking to move away from their on-premise technologies?

Seven, eight, is vendor lock-in your fate?

We all know that the mega-vendors love cooking up a scheme to stop their customers from running for the hills. The Cloud is no different; except in this cauldron, they’ve mixed in a bigger dose of deception.

Vendor lock-in is, perhaps, not the most prolific concern organisations voice when considering the potential drawbacks of the Cloud. But it’s a threat that lurks beneath the surface, waiting to pull you under.

Vendor lock-in is where an organisation becomes dependent on one particular vendor for its Cloud products and services; so much so that they would be unable to migrate to another vendor without incurring substantial financial costs, downtime, or issues with data reformatting.

Generally speaking, “dependency” (in the context of the business world) carries negative connotations, and we’ve previously indicated that putting all your eggs in one basket is risky business. In the case of the Cloud, dependency on one vendor could become an inescapable nightmare.

For instance, it’s rare that a single vendor is able to provide best-of-breed technologies to accommodate all your organisation’s requirements so you may well find yourself settling for mediocrity.

In a similar vein, should the chosen vendor drastically change its products in future releases, there is the potential that its software would no longer suit the business needs of an organisation. In this way, it can seem like you’re blindly investing millions into the future of a product that may not ever come to fruition or serve the desired (read: required) purpose.

Vendor lock-in sucks the freedom out of your IT strategy. While previously you may have been able to negotiate more favourable contract terms and pricing, because the vendor knows you are caught up in its web, your organisation loses all leverage.

Not only are you without any bargaining power, but you’ll also be lumped with whatever level of support that vendor feels like offering. You will no longer have the option to choose a support partner.

Does it feel like the walls are starting to close in yet?

There are three possible approaches to take: keep on keeping on with your on-premise technologies, explore alternative options for your current estate (hello, third party support at your service) while you wait for the Cloud roadmap to develop, or you could just take the plunge and move to the Cloud.

Much like your ERP decisions though, it’s a big commitment – not just for one generation of products – but the whole shebang, so it pays to be certain you’re choosing a treat, not a trick.

Nine, ten, think it through again

Is the thought of losing customisations, a lack of security, or vendor lock-ins making your blood run cold? Or, are you still thinking that Cloud Street is where you want to be?

Either way, third-party support might just be the Halloween treat you need.

If you’re not quite ready to face a move to the Cloud, but are looking to make long-term cost-savings and escape the clutches of a vendor upgrade cycle, then consider opting for third-party support.

We can support all product versions (including those the vendors boxed up and put in the attic), which means you can stick with your current system version without the pressure of upgrading.

Plus, you could slash your annual support bill by at least 50%, and these savings could be reinvested into other projects or could be saved up in preparation for a future Cloud migration.

Alternatively, you could sneak a peek around the corner of Cloud Street…

Opting for a Hybrid Cloud strategy means your organisation could retain the customised elements of its estate with its on-premise technologies, while migrating workloads where there is a business case for modernisation.

This way, you could trial an element of the Cloud to see how it could suit your organisation’s needs and how it compares to on-premise technologies, including the support offered by your chosen vendor.

And, by placing your remaining on-premise technologies in the hands of a third-party support provider, you could still benefit from those all-important savings.

If you would like help with this devil of a job, and to find out more about our Hybrid Cloud solution, download our fang-tastic guide:

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