Facts and Myths to the Cloud
Written by Robert Kluin

4 Misconceptions Preventing Cloud Implementation

This is part 3 of a 4-part series called Demystifying the Cloud. This blog series explores the differences between cloud-based solutions and traditional on-premise solutions, and the potential that the right cloud solution has to impact manufacturing organizations.

Cloud adoption is exploding, as evidenced by the current state of global enterprises. Over 90 percent of companies use cloud as part of their business, and cloud has the largest category in IT infrastructure budgets. It’s only a matter of time before organizations still using traditional, on-premises solutions will need to implement cloud-based software across their enterprise. 

The swiftly approaching requirement for cloud-based solutions causes unease for many manufacturing and engineering organizations. Traditionally, these industries are slower to adopt new technologies and rely on legacy software solutions due to perceived risk and difficulty in process change. Most of the hesitations regarding cloud implementation are actually just misconceptions. In reality, cloud-based solutions provide more value, security, and benefits than on-premises software.

MISCONCEPTION #1: IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT

One of the biggest hurdles in adopting cloud-based solutions stems from comfort. Processes become deeply ingrained into a company’s culture over time. When new technology innovations open new opportunities, it challenges those cultural norms. This is especially problematic when an organization evaluates cloud solutions the same way as on-premises systems.

A common mentality in process-conservative industries, such as manufacturing and engineering, is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But just because something isn’t broken, that doesn’t mean that it is optimal for current needs. A quick story from engineering collaborator, Phillip Keane, showcases this problem: 

“I used to work in R&D at a well-known jet engine manufacturer. We used to measure the remaining life of critical parts based on an algorithm, whose origins had been long forgotten. The algorithm used time units derived from three-minute blocks. This made absolutely no sense to me, as everything else along the workflow was measured in seconds. Why use three minutes as the baseline standard?

I did some digging around, and discovered that this 3-minute figure was derived from World War II, where test engineers would start the piston engine on the test bed and would flip over an egg timer to begin the countdown to engine shut off, thus signaling the end of the test. We were using algorithms based on an egg-timer from the 1940s on commercial jet engines here in the 21st century!”

With increasingly powerful cloud tools, many organizations don’t realize how suboptimal their outdated processes are until they experience what cloud-based solutions offer. Organizations stand to gain increased speed, flexibility, time- and cost-savings, and a variety of other benefits depending on their situation. By stepping away from “It ain’t broke,” and adopting “This can be better,” organizations begin to break restrictive cultural norms.

LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLOUD AND ON-PREMISE SOLUTIONS

MISCONCEPTION #2: MY DATA IS LESS SECURE IN THE CLOUD

Company perceptions of possible risk prevent them from considering new and valuable technologies. According to one study, 40 percent of companies delay cloud deployment if they don’t believe they have the security skills needed to protect valuable data. Although organizations can fixate on the fear of risk, cloud providers are positioned to support their customers in data security and protection. 

The fact is, the cloud is just as secure – if not more so – than storing and processing your data on-site. The most common issue is the feeling that your information is now out of your control and is more vulnerable. It takes collaboration with many groups to work through issues of security, access, and compliance to address misplaced fears. It is important to remember that cloud solutions are backed by the best regulations in security.

THE ROOT OF THE SECURITY MISCONCEPTION

Isolated incidents generate bad publicity, but analyzing these situations reveals some interesting truths. Cyber attacks, such as widely-publicized leaks of celebrity photos or information, are the result of brute force attacks on accounts with simple passwords. In one study, 17 percent of participants determined the “secret answers” of complete strangers.

That explains a simple user account, but what happens if a hacker tries to steal a company’s information? From a technical viewpoint, virtual networks are as secure (if not more so) than a traditional “bare metal network,” or the hardware inside a data center. Nobody can get in unless they are authorized. Furthermore, it is more challenging for hackers to locate data on segregated virtual networks.

YOUR SECURITY IS A CLOUD-BASED PROVIDER’S LIVELIHOOD

Consider the checks that your organization goes through every day to ensure data is protected. Those same checks and balances are in place when data is on the cloud, with one bonus layer of security: the service provider’s dedicated security departments. Global spending on cloud security solutions is expected to rise to $3.5 billion by 2021 at an annual growth rate of 28 percent.

The very existence of cloud service providers depends on excellent security standards. Service providers are not just competing on price and service – they are competing on security. This is especially true in industries where intellectual property or even national security is at stake (such as in semiconductors, automotive, and aerospace). Providers build their infrastructure with security in mind from the very start. Their investment in security typically outranks a standard organization’s resources significantly.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, there is actually an increase in your levels of security and your ease of compliance validation when working with a cloud-based partner. You can leverage their security and compliance teams in addition to your own. Using a secure, cloud-based system allows you to guard against risk because your data is secure and automatically guarded against data loss.

MISCONCEPTION #3: THE CLOUD IS TOO CHALLENGING FOR THE IT TEAM

When considering a new technology solution, IT teams follow a rigorous process to identify its potential risk and benefits. Many of these legacy processes are built to analyze on-premises solutions, but they don’t account for cloud risks. Thus, when the IT team attempts to migrate workflows or data to the cloud, they struggle to mitigate risk and ensure security compliances.

The best way to manage risk is to equip the workforce with modern tools. Organization must step away from legacy processes, educating and training the IT team on new ways to securely manage change. Cloud-based service providers typically have access to the best education and training opportunities, and can help their customers make the transition to new and valuable processes. It is vital to select a provider who will support training, implementation, and operations.

The organization still has a responsibility to move its own culture beyond legacy processes, and ensure their team acquires the necessary knowledge. A service provider supports this initiative along the way. In the next blog, I will talk more about training, risk assessment, and how to validate a cloud strategy.

MISCONCEPTION #4: TRANSITIONING COSTS TOO MUCH TIME AND MONEY

The short-term costs for integrating a cloud-based solution over a current solution can mislead organizations into thinking the ROI isn’t worth the switch. Many times, current solutions are already integrated or pre-budgeted. When researching costs for a new solution, upfront initial investment is compounded by the time and effort needed to:

  • Migrate data and workflows
  • Train the workforce
  • Consider future scaling

Companies looking to move to the cloud face changes to many of their processes, but this tends to be a short-term cost that enables more long-term benefits. Once a cloud solution is in place, the long-term ROI far outweighs the upfront cost. I’ve already explored this concept in depth in the previous blog. Organizations have the opportunity to gain more company resources, both in time and cost. The cloud provider manages all:

  • Software upgrades
  • Hardware and infrastructure requirements
  • Compliance to security best practices

THE SECRET TO OVERCOMING CLOUD MISCONCEPTIONS

Throughout these four misconceptions, one theme resonates throughout: the importance of educating and empowering the workforce. Organizations must learn:

  • Optimized, modern processes rather than trapping themselves in legacy processes that limit future scalability and growth
  • A cloud provider’s security measures to ensure a secure environment
  • The potential ROI for implementing cloud-based solutions

This knowledge is just one part of embracing cloud technologies. My final blog will discuss strategies to implement and leverage cloud-based solutions.

READ PART 4 OF THE SERIES HERE

About Robert Kluin

Robert Kluin is managing partner at Real Kinetic, where he specializes in helping companies leverage the cloud and scale their business. Robert is an experienced technology executive and entrepreneur who is passionate about helping companies develop engineering organizations that reliably deliver business value. Previously, Robert led the operations engineering, infrastructure engineering, reliability engineering, and support engineering groups at Workiva to ensure 24×7 operations and deliver systems to meet product engineering needs. He is a Google Cloud Platform Developers Expert and is an expert in Amazon Web Services.