New technologies are almost always beset by an array of myths, both debunking and exaggerating the claims made by the technology’s proponents. And in this regard, the cloud is certainly no different.
According to Reda Chouffani, vice president of development with Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry, health IT professionals considering the cloud are particularly concerned with cloud security and how it affects their HIPAA-compliant status. In his view, however, there are a number of cloud myths that give healthcare organizations pause when they evaluate cloud offerings to host their IT systems.
First up, the notion that the cloud is not secure enough. While specific security steps vary from vendor to vendor, Choufanni says, “the reality is that nobody can be sure about what happens in that cloud unless they are fully exposed to the provider's security and auditing practices. . . . Many vendors openly discuss the security layers they deploy to ensure the protection of their clients' data.”
Next is the contention that it's more costly to use cloud versus storing IT systems in-house. The challenge here, Choufanni says, lies in how the on-premises deployment of any system is accounted for. “The on-premises deployment expenses may not account for all costs associated with that model. In some cases, that estimate may skip costs of data retention, support staff, security equipment, warrantees, hardware refreshes and consulting. This can give a false sense that cloud has a smaller ROI than an in-house product. There are cases where a hybrid solution might offer the best ROI, but it will require a clear cost analysis to determine the difference between using some cloud services versus hosting everything internally.”
The third “myth” Choufanni cites is the claim that cloud users lose significant “functionality” in the cloud. To the contrary, he notes, “cloud service providers recognize that flexibility and ease of management is a key component to the success and allure of cloud adoption. Many of the early adopters of cloud services have seen their administrative tools improve significantly over time.”
The final two “myths” Choufanni tackles are the idea that users automatically lose ownership of their data in the cloud, as well as that, when viewed more broadly, many potential users have nothing to gain from the cloud in its current state of development. But as he sees it, neither of these claims holds up under scrutiny.
Perhaps the proof is in the numbers, as Choufanni points to Gartner research that says by the end of 2017 nearly half of large enterprises will have at least a hybrid cloud deployment. In his view, “this shows the success that cloud services are having today, and will likely continue to develop over the next few years.”