The Top 10 Cloud Myths

There is no shortage of candidates for the top 10 cloud myths. This list highlights some of the most dangerous and misleading ones.

The cloud, it turns out, is uniquely susceptible to the perils of myth. Unfortunately, according to David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow, myths slow us down, impede innovation and scare us, thus distracting us from real progress, innovation and outcomes. The most prevalent myth about the cloud is that it always saves money.

There is no shortage of candidates for the top 10 cloud myths. Below is a list that highlights some of the most dangerous and misleading ones.

Cloud Is Always About Money

While it’s sometimes the case that cloud always saves money, there are many other reasons cited for migrating to the cloud, the most common of which is for agility. Gartner’s 2014 CIO Agenda survey shows that cost savings account for only 14% of the reasons for organizations’ use of the public cloud. Saving money may end up one of the benefits, but it should not be taken for granted.

Advice: Don’t assume you will save money unless you have done the hard work of honestly analyzing the situation. Utilize total cost of ownership and other models on a case-by-case basis and assess the implications of moving from capital expenditure (capex) to operating expenditure (opex).

You Have to Be Cloud to Be Good

Are you “cloud washing” (referring to the tendency to call things cloud that are not)? Vendors do it, some cloud washing is accidental and a result of legitimate confusion, and sometimes IT organizations call 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 or that if it is not cloud based it cannot be good.

Advice: Call things what they are. Many other capabilities (e.g., automation, virtualization) and characteristics can be good and do not need to be cloud washed.

Cloud Should Be Used for Everything

The cloud fits where value is placed on flexibility and the business has the ability to consume and pay for only what is needed when needed. Unless there are cost savings, moving a legacy application that doesn’t change is not a good candidate.

Advice: The cloud may not benefit all workloads equally. Don’t be afraid to propose noncloud solutions when appropriate.

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“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.

Advice: 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.

We Need One Cloud Strategy or Vendor

Cloud computing is not one thing, and a cloud strategy has to be based on this reality. The nature of cloud services and existing interoperability standards can make the issue of limiting options less important, as those details are often hidden from the consumer.

Advice: A cloud strategy should be based on aligning business goals with potential benefits. A single cloud strategy makes sense if it makes use of a decision framework that allows for and expects multiple answers.

Cloud Is Less Secure Than On-Premises Capabilities

Cloud computing is perceived as less secure. To date, there have been very few security breaches in the public cloud — most breaches continue to involve on-premises data center environments.

Advice: Don’t assume that cloud providers are not secure, but also don’t assume they are. Cloud providers should have to demonstrate their capabilities, but once they have done so there is no reason to believe their offerings cannot be secure

Cloud Is Not for Mission-Critical Use

Cloud computing is not all or nothing. It is being adopted (and should be adopted) in steps and in specific cases.

Advice: Mission-critical can mean different things. If it means complex systems, approaches such as taking a phased approach can ease the movement to the cloud. Hybrid solutions can also play a key role.

Cloud = Data Center

Most cloud decisions are not (and should not be) about completely shutting down data centers and moving everything to the cloud. In general, data center outsourcing, data center modernization and data center strategies are not synonymous with the cloud.

Advice: Look at cloud decisions on a workload-by-workload basis, rather than taking an “all or nothing” approach.

Migrating to the Cloud Means You Automatically Get All Cloud Characteristics

Cloud computing has unique attributes and characteristics. Gartner’s cloud attributes include scalability and elasticity; they use service-based (and self-service) Internet technologies; they are shared (and uniform) and metered by use. Many migrations to the cloud are “lift and shift” rehosting, or other movements that do not exhibit these characteristics at higher levels. There are other types of cloud migration (refactoring and rewriting, for example) that typically do offer more of these characteristics. The most common use case for the cloud, however, is new applications.

Advice: 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.

Virtualization = Private Cloud

Virtualization 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.

Advice: Use the right term to describe what you are building. You don’t have to be cloud to be good. Avoid mis-setting expectations and adding to cloud confusion.

Gartner clients can read detailed advice in the report, The Top 10 Cloud Myths by David Mitchell Smith. 

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