Cloud washing – 5 ways to spot the fake cloud solutions from the real ones

Businesses across the globe are increasingly turning to responsive cloud-based solutions that require less IT infrastructure maintenance and enable fast growth. In fact, according to Gartner, by 2016 cloud will become the bulk of IT spend.

Additional research indicates that while only 19% of EU businesses used cloud services in 2014, this figure is expected to see a significant boost in the UK in 2015, according to the Cloud Industry Forum.

Among the companies that didn’t purchase cloud services in 2014, a majority cited a lack of knowledge of the cloud as the main reason. That leaves businesses at risk of falling victim to ‘cloud washing’.

True cloud vendors design their cloud solutions from the ground up. They build their software to perform as a fully managed solution, to provide businesses with a single version of the truth.

>See also: The great IT myth: is cloud really less secure than on-premise?

To settle the unease, many companies feel when moving from an in-house system to an external system, a good cloud vendor will demonstrate expertise around maintaining, and managing the software across hundreds of servers and across multiple levels. This is at the heart of a true cloud solution.

Despite what fake cloud vendors may say, multi-tenancy matters. For example, with a true cloud provider, all customers typically access the same solution from the same cloud. This gives customers automatic, continuous and instantaneous access to the latest product upgrades.

With true cloud providers, businesses are regularly and transparently upgraded to receive the latest innovations and benefits. Solutions are designed to give a company web access to systems from anywhere and the infrastructure is built to provide near 100% guaranteed uptime with fast performance and advanced data privacy protections.

Genuine cloud solutions can be easily integrated with both cloud and on-premise solutions, saving time and eliminating unnecessary costs and man hours. They can seamlessly integrate with web services or other third-party integrators.

With such solutions, businesses can manage, configure, customise and maintain cloud applications immediately. There’s no need to hire expensive consultants to help support the true cloud apps. Real cloud solutions provide customers with the means to tailor the solution to their own specific business needs.

They can also achieve substantially better economies of scale and pass the savings onto the customer so that investments can be made elsewhere in the business. And the agility to expand into multiple new countries with multiple new currencies and a simple and swift in-house deployment enables endless growth with no extra hassle.

In comparison, many fake cloud solutions were designed to run on-premise. In fact, many of these vendors typically do not even host, manage or maintain these ‘cloud’ solutions themselves.

By subscribing to an on-premise application that is simply hosted by another company, businesses experience many of the same problems and costs as if they were hosting it themselves, with the potential for further drawbacks.

App access is typically slower than if they had the software installed on their own servers, and they need to worry about depending on a third party to address any issues. Here are five tell-tale signs to look out for.

1. Delayed and painful product upgrades

When an on-premise solution is hosted by others, businesses still have to suffer through the same potentially arduous (and expensive) upgrades every time the software vendor releases a new version of its product, which can take years to get all customers upgraded and up to date.

2. Costly, unstable integrations and customisation

Integrating a hosted solution with other applications – either on-premise or cloud – causes considerable hassle, expense and questions over stability.

3. Too much downtime and inadequate security and support

Given their limited headcount and resources, most VARs and service providers simply cannot achieve the same levels of security, privacy and uptime as true cloud providers can. 

4. Need to overbuy/over-provision capacity>

If a business is uncertain of how much capacity it will need, it will probably have to over-buy the number of software licenses to ensure it’s not caught short. Or, worse yet, it under-provisions and then can't live up to service-level agreements (SLAs) with customers because it ‘failed’ to plan ahead.

5. Concern about financial viability of hosting firm

Businesses also have to worry about whether the VAR or service provider will stay in business as long as they need them. That leaves businesses scrambling to find another hosting vendor to move their solution safely, at the risk of losing access to data, or having to build the in-house IT infrastructure required from scratch.

>See also: Head in the cloud? How to keep your feet on the ground

There are clearly key differences to spotting a fake cloud vendor from a true cloud solution. Fake cloud providers will continue to conceal the limitations of what fake cloud can help businesses achieve. Meanwhile, true cloud providers continue to develop genuine and applicable solutions to enable businesses to prime themselves for growth.

Despite what fake cloud providers will claim, don’t be fooled. When it comes to speed of upgrades and deployment, performance, value, customisation and service, there is simply no comparison.


Sourced from Mark Woodhams, MD EMEA, NetSuite

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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