It may surprise you to learn that the concept of cloud computing has been around since 1996 (the same year Time Magazine named the Nintendo 64 “Machine of the Year”) when a small group of technology executives at Compaq Computer were writing a business plan for the future of Internet business. However, many credit Google CEO Eric Schmidt with first using the term in its modern context in 2006 at an industry conference.
“What’s interesting [now] is that there is an emergent new model,” Schmidt said. “I don’t think people have really understood how big this opportunity is. It starts with the premise that the data services and architecture should be on servers. We call it cloud computing – they should be in a ‘cloud’ somewhere.” Who Coined 'Cloud Computing'?
At its essence, cloud computing provides easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services, allowing users to focus on their core business without having to worry about infrastructure obstacles and expenses. Yet, 15 years later, many people still don’t fully understand the realm of opportunities that cloud computing provides.
Conversations with hundreds of CEOs and CIOs by global consulting firm McKinsey & Company and others reveal a consistent set of myths about cloud computing that have led to more questions than answers and hampered adoption. Companies that have effectively overcome these myths are the ones who are gaining the greatest rewards from their move to the cloud.
Here are the facts regarding some of the more common myths about cloud computing:
1. Cloud migration is difficult
Cloud migration involves moving data, applications and systems from an onsite infrastructure to a cloud service provider's infrastructure. While it may sound complicated, most experienced cloud hosting providers can make the migration seamless, with marginal downtime.
2. Transformation is required for cloud benefits
Many executives mistakenly believe they must completely transform all of their apps into a cloud-native model to realize any benefits, according to the TechTarget network. Untrue.
Simply put, with the right provider, moving your current infrastructure to the cloud – including migrating apps, data, software programs or the entire IT infrastructure – should be efficient and seamless. You’ll want a provider who can build your new system to replicate your current one as closely as possible. When your firm moves to the new system, workflow disruption and your staff’s learning curve should be minimal.
3. The cloud is less secure than on-premises infrastructures
False. Securing an organization’s IT infrastructure – whether it’s on an onsite external hard drive or in the cloud – requires two elements: physical security and cybersecurity. Rarely can a business enterprise match the resources of a qualified cloud-hosting provider’s data center.
Ideally, you want a data center that has redundant capacity components, multiple independent distribution paths serving the computer equipment, protections against most physical events, and supported by IT and security expertise. Examples include:
- Security monitoring with motion, video and infrared detection devices that cover both the property and premises.
- Multiple levels of security for entry to the data center, including biometric access partitions.
- Numerous HVAC units and fiber-optic internet connections from major Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
- Natural gas generators and separate fuel sources for backup power to both the data center and entire facility.
- Adherence to the highest specifications for security and regulatory compliance.
- Full-time chief security officer and IT director on staff.
4. Cloud data is public
This is a common misunderstanding about the cloud. There are public clouds (shared environments) and private clouds (dedicated environments), and it’s important to know the differences. Public clouds, such as Microsoft and Google, are typically a multi-tenant, pay-as-you-go model where your server shares the same hardware, storage and network devices with the other tenants in the cloud.
Conversely, a private cloud is a single-tenant environment where the hardware, storage, and network are dedicated to a single client and designed to assure high levels of security that cannot be accessed by other clients in the same data center.
5. All clouds have the same security
Wrong. All clouds are not created equal. For instance, two private cloud environments managed by the same provider can have very different security measures in place, depending on the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the cloud provider and the client. When entering into a SLA with a cloud-based data hosting provider, it’s important to verify what security measures will be used for your specific cloud environment.
6. We have a cloud implementation/adoption/migration strategy
A plan to shut down the data center is not a cloud strategy, explains Gartner, a technology and business research and advisory company. Rather, the cloud should be considered a means to an end, and the end must first be defined.
A sound cloud strategy should be based on an organization’s business goals, followed by mapping the cloud’s potential benefits to support those goals. It needs to be comprehensive, clearly stated and distinct from an implementation plan.
7. You cannot meet compliance requirements on the cloud
This myth is absolutely false. At a minimum, an experienced managed cloud hosting provider will offer CPA firms government and industry compliances relevant to financial services, such as SOC 1 or SOC 2. Others will take it a step further to include adherence to the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA), Sarbanes Oxley Act and the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).
There are also cloud providers who take the compliance needs of your clients into consideration. For example, if you serve clients in the medical field, the HIPAA HITECH Act mandates audits of health care providers to determine if they are in compliance with the privacy and security rules for protecting personal health information. The U.S. Criminal Justice Information Services Security Policy (CJIS) is important for CPAs working with criminal justice clients, as it outlines security precautions to protect sensitive information like fingerprints and criminal back ground checks gathered by the local, state, and federal criminal justice and law enforcement agencies.
An estimated 85 percent of businesses already have the majority of their workloads running in the cloud. If misperceptions are keeping your firm from developing a cloud strategy, you are likely falling behind your competitors, Gartner warns.
Now that you know the facts, here are seven truths about the advantages of migrating to a cloud-based IT infrastructure:
- Business continuity
- Cost and efficiency
- Ease of implementation
Coaxis is one such provider. It provides CPA firms with a fully-hosted and managed network solution from its privately owned, single tenant data center in Tallahassee, Florida that is built, operated and maintained to the highest industry standards. The Coaxis team has extensive experience in supporting a broad range of tax and financial reporting software applications, and its services are compliant with GLBA, HIPAA HITECH, CJIS, and an Industry Audit SOC 2 Type 2- Unqualified Audit Opinion.
As an endorsed program of the FICPA, Coaxis offers special member pricing for its CPA program package. To learn more, visit www.coaxiscloud.com/ficpa or contact Lisa Bryant, executive vice president of corporate development, at (850) 391-1022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.