In our time and age, cloud computing and its implementation have completely changed the way both companies and individual contractors approach their IT. It provides access to nearly unlimited databases, storage, and servers, all just a touch of a finger away from any place in the world. It has also revolutionized companies’ hardware budget, optimization of staff resources and even office space. In fact, the importance and potential impact of cloud computing only seems to be growing. According to Gartner Forecasts, in 2019, the cloud market will grow by 17.3% ($206.2 billion) and in 2022, they predict 90% of organizations will be purchasing and using cloud services.
However, progress may come at a great price. As this worldwide public method of data storage and computing power are ever-evolving, applications are constantly migrating to cloud-based services, and more and more companies choose to implement cloud advanced IT strategies; as do the risks grow. Though some of these risks aren’t any different than those of traditional data centers, there are certain vulnerabilities that are unique to cloud systems. But the best approach to any IT issue is knowing what some of those risks are and addressing them accordingly. 
Ghulam Mustafa, Cloud Enterprise Architect at Oracle states that while there are several challenges and risks to cloud implementation, they don’t necessarily “mean your IT roadmap has to remain anchored on-premise”. Having a constant day-to-day technical interaction with cloud users as well as creating technical solutions through the Oracle system, Mustafa notes there are quite a few risks and challenges related to the adoption of Cloud Computing, which he thinks will require “a strategic iterative approach to overcome the Issues at hand”: 

While cloud computing challenges do exist, if properly addressed, these issues don’t mean your IT roadmap has to remain anchored on-premise. In the End – the Cloud Still Wins. To make the best out of it and overcome issues, you should take a strategic iterative approach to implementation, explore hybrid cloud solutions, involve business and IT teams, invest in a CIO, and choose the right cloud partner.

 Security breaches 

Over 74 percent of IT executives in the US in 2018, stated that the primary challenge that stopped them from adopting Cloud is the inherently high possibility of security breaches on the platform. “It is quite common these days to hear about security breaches that led to the leakage of millions of user/ consumer details,” said Mustafa, who has closely observed numerous such breaches and failures in the industry related to security monitoring and storing, over the past decade.

understanding what cloud computing security, is is extremely important, according to the Cloud consultant, cloud computing security or, more simply, cloud security refers to a broad set of policies, technologies, and controls deployed to protect data, applications, and the associated infrastructure of cloud computing.

Mustafa who specializes in creating safe migration plans, designing the orchestrations plans and determining the optimal source cloud (whether Virtual, Physical or Cloud-based) for his client’s needs, states that security risks of cloud computing have become the top concern in 2019. security has indeed been a primary, and valid, concern from the start of cloud computing technology: Customers are unable to see the exact location where your data is stored or being processed. This increases the cloud computing risks that can arise during the implementation or management of the cloud. Headlines highlighting data breaches, compromised credentials, and broken authentication, hacked interfaces and APIs, account hijacking haven’t helped alleviate concerns. Luckily as cloud providers and users, mature security capabilities are constantly improving.

Cost management 

Cost management has become a major concern for many businesses and corporations over the years and many small and medium sized enterprises are still reluctant to migrate to cloud because of this. “Enterprises should enlist a number of resources, including cost calculators and third-party tools, to assess what they’ll pay for cloud computing — before they start migration.” 

In 2015, Bain and Company survey stated that only 18 percent of businesses were willing to move their entire workload to cloud, in 2019 however the number has grown to over 83 percent, according to a survey by RightScale. 
According to the study by RightScale, “13 percent of enterprises spend more than $12 million a year on public cloud, while 50 percent spend more than $1.2 million annually.Public cloud expenditure is growing 3x faster than private cloud usage ( 24 percent vs. 8 percent)”-the study states.

Although companies can save much more in the long run if they shift their workload to the cloud, the initial investment is a big problem for many small companies. However, he does think that it has become mandatory for small companies to move their business functions into cloud as this would help them in analyzing their data more efficiently as they can take advantage of the specialized services on the cloud which integrate back-office operations for marketing and human resource, giving small business owners more time to focus on the important matters.

According to him, despite popular beliefs, cost-cutting is possible on cloud. “ Just because you are on cloud does not mean that you do not need to track your costs, you will actually need to analyze and track your cloud expenditure by correlating it to developers and the projects they are handling, so you understand expected consumption patterns,” he said before adding that this would enable companies to ensure that their resources are provisioned in  the most economical way.

Managing multiple clouds

The state of multi-cloud has grown exponentially in recent years. Companies are shifting or combining public and private clouds and, as mentioned earlier, tech giants like Alibaba and Amazon are leading the way.

According to the study by RightScale in 2018, over 80 percent of enterprises today are using  a multi-cloud strategy, 51 percent have a hybrid cloud strategy and on average, businesses are using about 4.8 different public and private clouds.

But for all the benefits of a multi-cloud strategy, there are some challenges that come with it as well. Specifically it can be difficult to secure a multi-cloud strategy because of a lack of visibility across hosts and services. That makes it easier for hackers to find exploitable vulnerabilities within an organization’s infrastructure and it also makes it more difficult to meet compliance mandates.

When it comes to the management of multi-cloud strategies there are a lot of things we need to take into consideration. According to a study done by IEEE called cloud computing security for single to multi-clouds, when the concept of multi-cloud first became popular, nearly a decade ago, the reason for its adoption was that it would be more secure than the single cloud. This, however, has turned out to be not entirely true as a survey done in 2018 found that 90 percent of IT experts were worried about the security breach on multiple clouds. 

Compliance 

“Compliance is another risk that cloud computing is facing,” says Mustafa, as everytime a company transfers its data from the internal storage cloud it needs to comply with industry laws and regulations.

Cloud customers need to look for vendors that can provide compliance and check if they are regulated by the standards they need. Some vendors offer certified compliance, but in some cases, additional input is needed on both sides to ensure proper compliance regulations.

Mustafa also pointed out that the other main challenge businesses may face is data compliance. “ As many companies have data centers spread across the globe, data governance and compliance have become a problem, like in the EU nations where not complying by the GDPR rules could lead to hefty fines,” he said.

Performance

When a business moves to the cloud it becomes dependent on the service providers. The next prominent challenges of moving to cloud computing expand on this partnership. Nevertheless, this partnership often provides businesses with innovative technologies they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. On the other hand, the performance of the organization’s BI and other cloud-based systems is also tied to the performance of the cloud provider when it falters. When your provider is down, you are also down.

This isn’t uncommon, over the past couple of years all the big cloud players have experienced outages. Make sure your provider has the right processes in place and that they will alert you if there is ever an issue.

For the data-driven decision making process, real-time data for organizations is imperative. Being able to access data that is stored on the cloud in real-time is one of the imperative solutions an organization has to consider while selecting the right cloud partner.

Of course, as cloud services and computing keep developing, so do the risks. This list, according to Mustafa is some of the current burning issues of the platform. But future growth and progress are inevitable and “in the end”, Mustafa concludes “the Cloud still wins”. 

 Similarly, using multi-cloud means that the company will need experts multiple skill sets to get the maximum out of the Cloud, which means companies will need to invest in a team with multiple skill sets.

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