Cloud computing remains one of the hottest topics in IT circles – and one that drives a fair amount of confusion over what the technology entails as well as its pros and cons. To examine some of the myths that surround cloud computing, we talked with Jeff Kaplan, founder and managing director of THINKstrategies.

Kaplan has been in the IT research and consulting business for more than 25 years, working at companies including IDC, Dataquest and META Group. He founded THINKstrategies in 2001 because he saw IT moving to a services-driven model, first with software-as-a-service and now cloud computing in all its iterations. Turns out that was a good call.

In less than 10 minutes, Kaplan dispelled 5 myths about cloud computing.

Myth 1: Cloud is no different from traditional hosted services, such as Web hosting.
“What sets cloud apart from those traditional services is what has evolved in terms of its elasticity and economics,” Kaplan says. Hosting companies traditionally signed customers to long-term contracts of a year or more. Cloud providers, on the other hand, enable customers to turn services on and off as needed, such as to meet seasonal demands. “As a result, you can save a lot of money if you properly manage those services,” Kaplan says.

Myth 2: Cloud is just another form of outsourcing
“You are looking at taking advantage of a third party service provider to help you perform your internal functions, but that’s where the similarity ends,” he says. Outsourcers traditionally came into a company and took over its operations, using the existing infrastructure and software. Each instance was different, so each typically required a custom plan. “What’s happening in the cloud environment is you are able to procure packaged services that are ready made for customers to take advantage of on an on-demand basis,” Kaplan says. “You therefore have far less risk because those services have been packaged and positioned to meet a specific set of requirements.”

Myth 3: Cloud services are one-size-fits-all; they can’t be customized
While results vary by vendor, in general software- and infrastructure-as-a-service providers have become adept at providing offerings that can be easily configured to meet the needs of a specific company, he says. And platform-as-a-service offerings are “all about building your own apps and solutions using an on-demand development environment.”

Myth 4: Cloud services aren’t secure
The best way to look at this question is to turn it around and think about how secure your own environment is, Kaplan says. “Look at yourself in the mirror and ask, do you really feel you have the in-house skills and resources to withstand the escalating threats that unfortunately we all face today when it comes to security?” Cloud providers are designing and building a high degree of security into their offerings, with some getting certifications to prove it and establishing SLAs to bet on it. That makes Kaplan’s “look in the mirror” suggestion a good one.

Myth 5: Cloud is really just for SMBs
Large-scale enterprises have been leading the charge to both SaaS and cloud offerings, he says, although it’s been a little hard to tell because it’s often an individual or business unit making the deal to meet some specific need. As those groups find success, however, other groups within the business follow, Kaplan says. “So we’re seeing large-scale enterprises adopting SaaS and cloud more rapidly than some SMBs.” Those small and medium-sized businesses are often more hesitant because they’re not as knowledgeable about the offerings and because, by nature of their size, every offering they do adopt comes with more inherent risk. “But we are seeing adoption across all sizes of organizations and almost every industry,” Kaplan says.

Check out our podcast to hear Kaplan’s full analysis of these 5 cloud myths – all in less than 10 minutes.

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