Road to Cloud Computing Obscured by Confusion, Marketing Hype

NEWS ANALYSIS: False market differentiation, trendy jargon and poor grounding in the technology result in higher costs, ineffective transitions and generally impede cloud adoption.  

LAS VEGAS—Ask pretty much anybody who is in the process of moving some business operations to the cloud exactly what they think the cloud is, and the chances are you'll get a different answer from each one. This is, as you might expect, a problem when it comes to moving critical business functions to the cloud.

"The cloud doesn't have to mean the public cloud," Margaret Dawson told eWEEK in an interview at the Interop conference here. Dawson, who is Hewlett-Packard's vice president of product marketing and a cloud evangelist" for the company, said that the misunderstandings of what the cloud is and how it works play a significant role in slowing cloud adoption for many companies. This is because a surprisingly large number of people assume "the cloud" means the "public cloud."

In reality, Dawson said, most companies don't, and shouldn't, use the public cloud for their operations. The public cloud has performance issues, security challenges and risks that far exceed levels that most companies are willing to accept. But she also noted that many, perhaps most, companies can make good use of private clouds. She also suggested that there are a number of situations in which companies can benefit from using hybrid clouds, so that some work is done in the cloud, while critical processes remain in the data center.

Dawson said that changes in the way data centers can benefit from both virtualization and by access to the cloud have created an opportunity in which the IT department and the data center can be a strategic advantage to a company. "This is the era where IT can be the hero," Dawson said.

"We've had all these advancements in the data center. You're dealing with multiple data centers," she said. But she noted that there is another source of confusion that the industry needs to clear up. "How do you have common implementation of the cloud?" she asked referring to the extreme complexity that goes with many cloud implementations.

Dawson said that many of the management tools on the market that would provide help for cloud operators and IT departments do indeed have the ability to make a move to the cloud manageable. Such cloud automation systems promise to take over the process of provisioning security appliances, managing multiple hypervisors or managing data centers. But these automation systems can become very complex on their own accord.

Making matters worse, the added complexity and the proprietary nature of many such tools have their own disadvantages, including a potential increase in security risks.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...