4 September 2012

Why Not Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

While the many benefits of cloud computing are well documented, businesses need to carefully consider a number of vital issues before deciding to take the plunge.

True, effective utilisation of shared ICT resources and services can provide excellent cost-effective information systems solutions. This is especially appropriate for small businesses, with the pay-as-you-use services model potentially lowering their cost of ICT. Cloud computing can also offer organisational flexibility and systems agility that are all or partially implemented, managed and monitored by an expert third party. Yet these may not be reasons enough to embrace the concept.

Indeed, our current research is examining multi-enterprise requirements of cloud computing in the context of disaster management. Significantly, it’s in these types of complex scenarios involving multiple organisations that particularly salient problems arise. These relate to:
  • Data security management 
  • Privacy
  • Compliance and risk management
  • Legal issues (often the case with off-shore service providers)
It’s clear that these issues must be overcome if a cloud computing service model is to effectively underpin government, enterprise and community efforts during disasters.

When it comes to the general question of whether an organisation should embrace cloud computing, it is critical that management is clear as to their requirements for data and information, business process effectiveness, as well as organisational risk and operational structures. Only then should they decide upon the appropriate application of a cloud model that meets these requirements.

While an external third-party provider may well be the best option, some problems arising from third-party provision are causing many organisations to establish their own private cloud configuration, essentially taking the ideas behind cloud computing and doing it for themselves. Choosing a hybrid of both public and private cloud services is also an option, while sharing ICT resources and services with another business in a "community cloud" is also something that could make perfect sense.

Author: Associate Professor Deborah Bunker - Director of Doctoral Studies

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