Not All Clouds Are Created Equal

Cloud & Virtualization

Not All Clouds Are Created Equal

By Frank Yue, Director of Application Delivery Solutions  |  December 07, 2016

With cloud IT infrastructure spending anticipated to reach 46 percent of total expenditures to enterprise IT infrastructure, a standard classification system must be put into place to help businesses understand the different features and benefits various cloud solutions offer. As it stands now, the term cloud is too broad and lacks the ability to communicate the benefits of specific solutions to businesses. Just like the various clouds in the sky, different solutions and architectures exist offering different features and benefits for businesses.

For any business adopting cloud solutions, there is potential that the cloud hype might not live up to reality if solution benefits are not adequately communicated. When a cloud solution does not live up, it’s far too easy for executives to write off their application as being inappropriate for a cloud environment. Yet in many cases this attribution is misguided, and the problem is often rooted in the choice of the specific cloud solution and not the application’s ability to perform in a cloud environment. To continue growing and evolving the cloud space, a more clear standardization of solution benefits, services, and features must be put into place industry-wide.

Confusing Classifications Create Real Problems

Currently, categories of cloud solutions are defined based on the level of ownership and control the cloud provider has over the architecture and infrastructure. From the most basic level of ownership (co-location facility) to greater levels of support (software as a service), businesses of all sizes have different options based on their needs. In addition to this, cloud solutions can be defined and classified based on the services the provider actually offers to their business. This can range from managing network, system, and application support to putting complex security systems in place.

As you can see, these classifications and definitions are not exactly clear cut or straightforward, especially for executives and business that might not be experienced with this technology. Misunderstandings and miscommunications between providers and businesses in terms of services offered and levels of ownership can inhibit application and data availability, security, and more. A business may put an application in a cloud and expect the cloud provider to manage the platform, when in reality it is the responsibility of its own IT department. 

A lack of clear ownership for the operating system and other infrastructure components due to the wrong cloud choice can lead to misconfigurations and a lack of updates. The application will not perform optimally and the business will get the perception that the cloud solution does not work. Outsourcing IT functions to the cloud provider is only going to be effective when there are clear lines of responsibility between the company’s IT team and the cloud provider’s support organization.

More importantly, there is greater exposure to security vulnerabilities when there is no clear ownership for various cloud components. Miscommunication breeds misconfiguration. When application and data environments are not current and configured with the appropriate security policies, hackers can easily discover exposed vulnerabilities. In these cases, not only are the application and data in the cloud exposed, but the vulnerable cloud application can provide an easy path for the hacker to access private corporate network resources.

Defining to Avoid Disappointment

To continue truly driving the adoption and evolution of cloud solutions, it is imperative that the technology community solidifies the classifications of different cloud models. A standard procedure for defining various platforms based on their unique offerings helps organizations to align their goals and applications with the appropriate solution and prevents businesses from placing their application or data in the wrong type of cloud infrastructure.

Cloud provider associations and the cloud provider industry have the responsibility to define and disseminate a classification structure to the business community. The business of cloud services needs to create clear types of cloud offerings and define the capabilities within each category. Until the cloud community is able to properly classify and categorize the cloud offerings, there will be misunderstandings and unclear perceptions of what the cloud is and how it should be utilized.

Frank Yue (News - Alert) is the Director Application Delivery Solutions for Radware. In this role, Yue is responsible for evangelizing technologies and trends around Radware’s ADC (News - Alert) (News - Alert) solutions and products. He writes blogs, produces solution architectures, and speaks at conferences and events around the world about application networking technologies. Prior to joining Radware (News - Alert), Yue was at F5 Networks (News - Alert), delivering their global messaging for service providers. Yue has also covered deep packet inspection, high performance networking, and security technologies. Yue is a scuba diving instructor and background actor when he is not discussing technology.

Edited by Alicia Young
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