Disadvantages of Cloud Computing: the pros and cons.

If you want to deliver digital services of any kind, you’ll need compute resources: CPU, memory, storage, and network connectivity. Which resources you choose for your delivery, cloud-based or local, is up to you. But you’ll definitely want to do your homework first.

Cloud computing has certainly benefited many enterprises by reducing costs and allowing them to concentrate on their core business competence rather than IT and infrastructure issues. But, for all the generally well-earned hype, there are still distinct disadvantages of Cloud Computing – especially relating to smaller operations – that you should consider before taking the leap. In this post, I’ll try to offer some key concerns along with strategies for addressing them.

The six main disadvantages of Cloud Computing:

1) Downtime

This may be one of the worst disadvantages of cloud computing. No cloud provider, even the very best, would claim immunity to service outages. Cloud computing systems are internet based, which means your access is fully dependent on your Internet connection. And, like any hardware, cloud platforms themselves can fail for any one of a thousand reasons.

Can your business absorb a prolonged bout of frequent outages or slowdowns? And don’t think it doesn’t happen. 2014 saw more than a few incidents where service providers like DropBox faced an outage for as long as two days. Consider these two key points:

      • Which of your business processes can be delayed or halted if the service provider goes down?
      • When your internet connection is down, all your applications drop offline.

Best Practices for minimizing planned downtime in an SAP environment:

      Demand a service level agreement (SLA) from your provider guaranteeing uptimes in excess of 99.55% (which equals 1.83 days of downtime a year, or 3.60 hours of downtime a month).

2) Cloud Computing disadvantages: security and privacy

Any discussion involving data must address security and privacy, especially when it comes to managing sensitive data. We mustn’t forget Code Space and what happened to it after its AWS EC2 console was hacked and its data eventually deleted, forcing the company to close doors forever. By leveraging a remote cloud based infrastructure, a company basically outsources everything it has.

Of course, your cloud service provider is expected to manage and safeguard the underlying hardware infrastructure of a deployment, however remote access is your responsibility and, in any case, no system is perfectly secure. You’ll have to carefully weigh all the risk scenarios.

After the recent leaks of celebrity pictures and countless millions of user login credentials, the privacy of your cloud-based data is another consideration. How much can you trust your provider? Can you face this, which is one of the riskiest disadvantages of cloud computing?

Best practices for minimizing security and privacy risks:

      • Know who is supposed to have access to each resource and service
      • Limit data access based on user context
      • Take a risk-based approach to securing assets used in the cloud
      • Extend security to the device
      • Add intelligence to network protection
      • Build in the ability to see through the cloud

3) Cloud Computing disadvantages: vulnerability to attack

In cloud computing, every component is potentially accessible from the Internet. Of course, nothing connected to the Internet is perfectly secure and even the best teams suffer severe attacks and security breeches. But since cloud computing is built as a public service and it’s easy to run before you learn to walk. No one at AWS checks your administration skills before granting you an account: all it takes to get started is a valid credit card.

Best practices to help you reduce cloud attacks:

      • Identify threats by correlating real-time alerts with global security intelligence
      • Proactively protect information
      • Automate security through IT compliance controls
      • Prevent data exfiltration
      • Integrate prevention and response strategies into security operations
      • Discover rogue projects with audits
      • Authenticate identities

These practices will help your organization to monitor for the exposure and movement of critical data, defend crucial systems from attack and compromise, and authenticate access to infrastructure and data. And they keep away you from further risks and disadvantages of cloud computing.

4) Limited control and flexibility

To varying degrees (depending on the particular service) cloud users have limited control over the function and execution of their hosting infrastructure. Cloud provider EULAs and management policies might impose limits on what customers can do with their deployments. Customers are also limited to the control and management of their applications, data, and services, but not the backend infrastructure. Of course, none of this will normally be a problem, but it should be taken into account.

5) Cloud Computing platform dependencies

Implicit dependency, also known as “vendor lock-in” is another of the disadvantages of cloud computing. Deep-rooted differences between vendor systems can sometimes make it impossible to migrate from one cloud platform to another. Not only can it be complex and expensive to reconfigure your applications to meet the requirements of a new host, but migration could also expose your data to additional security and privacy vulnerabilities.

Best Practices to decrease dependency:

Properly understanding what your vendors are selling can help avoid lock-in problems in the cloud. In fact, under the hood, many vendors use the same open source components, building proprietary solutions from their own unique recipes. Knowing what’s really going on and planning ahead can make a big difference.

6) Cloud Computing costs

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Cloud computing – especially on a small scale and for short term projects – can be pricey. Though it can allow you to reduce staff and hardware costs, the overall price tag could end up higher than you expected. Until you’re sure of what will work best for you, it’s a good idea to experiment with a variety of offerings. You might also make use of the cost calculators made available by providers like Amazon’s AWS and Google’s GCP.

Best practices to reduce costs:

  • Scale DOWN as well as UP
  • Pre-pay if you have a known minimum usage
  • Stop your Instances when unused!
  • Watch out for waste – Cloud Sprawl
  • Set Smart Alerts
  • Cost is a proxy for Usage

Disadvantages of cloud computing: conclusion

Even with all of the above disadvantages of Cloud Computing , the environment has immense potential for many business models. As platforms mature and the economies of scale continue to grow, costs will continue to fall and reliability and security standards will improve. Expect more of the same, but never fail to do your research and planning.