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The 10 biggest mistakes made when moving to the cloud
There are some compelling reasons to move to the cloud but it's easy to make mistakes too. We pick out ten of the most common
Cloud computing can, of course, be a hugely satisfying thing to do. It can be cost-effective and straightforward whilst at the same time de-risking your organisation through the sheer reliability and high-end support of the remote infrastructure. This doesn't mean that it's a trivial thing to do, however, and it's easy to make simple mistakes. We'll consider our top ten.
1. Making the wrong decision to use the cloud
The first mistake that one can make is to choose the cloud when it doesn't really suit the application or your organisation (or both).
Of course as we all know, cloud services can bring vast benefits to an organisation's computing capability, but as with any technology there are times when it just doesn't fit no matter how hard you try to persuade yourself it's a good idea. Particularly if you're a small company with no need for super-resilience, no knowledge of managing vendors and/or very simple requirements, you can spend more time and money administering a cloud infrastructure than you would if you had a handful of inexpensive servers in house.
2. Choosing the wrong machine for the job
In the cloud it's just as easy to choose the wrong tool for the job as it is in an in-house application. Just because you use, say, Windows Server 2008 R2 for your in-house finance system, this doesn't mean you should just map it onto a Windows installation in the cloud. Perhaps you chose a Windows platform internally because that's the skillset you have; in the cloud someone else will manage the OS for you so why not consider, say, Linux? And of course if you take it a step further you can even decide to go for a fully managed application: given the choice of, say, a fully managed Oracle app on a fully managed Linux box, why wouldn't you go for that if it's faster than a Windows installation?
3. Bodging your user access
When you run applications in the cloud, user access can be easy or hard. And if it's hard, the chances are because you made it that way. What's one of the key difficulties with in-house systems? Maintaining a collection of disparate user databases is one of the world's greatest pains in the backside, and with a cloud setup there's nothing different. Yes, it can take a little bit of effort to integrate the cloud service with your own directory service; and yes, it might take you a few minutes to persuade the higher-ups in the company that to do so isn't a hideous security risk from Hell. But properly integrated user access is an absolute god-send – not least because it's the only way you can be sure that when staff leave the organisation and you want to be sure their access has been properly curtailed.
4. Disregarding geography
As we all know, putting an application in the cloud doesn't mean that it'll end up on arbitrary servers in random locations. The thing is, though, we don't necessarily all know this – many newcomers to the concept think that you have to place your application at the mercy of the supplier's load balancing and auto-failover engines. Consider your geography carefully, and consider the legalities of where your data sits and the logic of how close the app and the data are to the users.
5. Losing control of costs
It can't be denied that the economics of cloud computing are compelling. When you look at the cost of a powerful server in the cloud and compare it with the price of buying the physical hardware, the argument for outsourcing is compelling.
It's very easy, however, to lose track of the virtual machines, storage, IP addresses, load balancing and applications that you've set up (a fact which isn't helped by the less-than-great user interfaces on some services). This can become very expensive, because although you don't pay very much for each component, it soon adds up when you have several of each and you're not careful to keep track and decommission unused entities.