“The Cloud” is often touted as the end-all be-all for virtual computing, something to relieve companies of all of their burdens when it comes to their Web hosting needs. But for all of the positive talk about cloud hosting, VPS options and the impact of “Web 2.0″, many businesses are still avoiding cloud computing like it brings with it the cold touch of the plague. Why?
The most commonly cited culprit is confusion. Every cloud hosting, website hosting and email archiving company seems to define their “cloud” in a different way, and each one seems to have a different level of functionality. Some seem so far advanced that businesses have no idea where to even begin the process of transferring their Web data, and some seem so simple that a company has to wonder what they’d be paying for. While cloud computing and VPS hosting is certainly on the rise, confusion along with a few notable other issues keep many companies from taking the plunge.
In addition to a lack of true definition for “the cloud”, many businesses see a number of problems with having their data on the cloud. The first is security. Having data off-site means less storage space used, but it also means it is potentially vulnerable to attack. Cloud security is in its infancy, and many companies don’t trust it. Complications with data movement are also an issue, along with the proprietary nature of many cloud computing systems. Often, it is not clear to a company how to get their data onto the cloud hosting platform itself, and once it is there, many fear they will never be able to get it back or move it to another provider.
Businesses are also worried about the time that cloud computing may take away from them. Often, applications used by companies will have to be re-tooled to work on the cloud, wasting time and lowering productivity. In addition, a partial move with time to adjust is typically not an option – companies must choose to be either all on-site or all cloud-based. The lack of customer service is also an issue, as many start-up VPS companies offer lower prices for cloud hosting but without the kind of technical support that a non Web-savvy company needs to ensure that their data is properly handled.
Although the cloud represents a sweeping change in the way that Web development and Web page storage is handled, the technology lacks a codified set of definitions and suffers from a number of potentially time-consuming issues. Providers are beginning to address the problems, but in the meantime companies must decide if the leap to the cloud is yet worth the risk.