I've been covering the cloud for a long time. I remember first hearing the term in the 2008 timeframe at a conference while watching a panel that included representatives from AWS, Google and Salesforce.
Looking back, it was one of those pivotal moments, but many of the concerns I heard from the audience that day persist, and you would think in six years, we could have moved past the base concerns and agreed that cloud computing offers many advantages including scalability, agility, flexibility and cost.
A recent conversation I had with a venture capitalist who works with a lot of CIOs suggested otherwise. As did an article on CIO.com, which suggested that because searches for the term "cloud computing" have gone down that must mean interest has too.
Or, it could mean that people understand the term and are looking at specific companies, because it's possible people don't need to research the term anymore.
The biggest concern of course remains security. If private data centers were truly more secure than cloud services this might hold water, but let's face it, they are all data centers and data centers are not fool-proof. There are hackers out there attacking private companies and public cloud services alike. Nobody is immune here just because you change the computing model.
In fact, you could argue though, and many have, that cloud data centers are actually more secure because they have more resources to put to bear on it and their very livelihood depends on being secure. Certainly, not every private data center can make this claim. And there are of course weak points in any security system. An employee can open an email with malware, and someone can capture passwords with a keystroke logger and come in through the front door. Just because you're in control, doesn't mean you're more secure.
The other big concern, the venture capitalist told me, is reliability. I can't say that public cloud services never go down because clearly they do. Whever GMail goes down, even for a few minutes, Twitter blows up with complaints. And it's likely that every cloud service has had their Twitter moment, at least those big enough for people on Twitter to complain on a large scale.
And that's thing, public cloud outages are, well, very public. Chances are that in every data center in the world, a service goes down on a daily basis. Nobody goes on Twitter when their Exchange server is down or their ERP system is being upgraded. They just deal with it.
But the fact is, even after all these years, these tired arguments remain. Forward-thinking IT pros understand the advantages of the cloud and that even though all cloud vendors aren't created equal, they work very hard at these two metrics: security and reliability.
One important thing to remember is cloud service providers are run on a subscription basis. That means when the terms of the subscription are up, the customer can move on. It might not be entirely trivial to do that, but it's easier than breaking with most on-premises software vendors and it means they're accountable to their customers.
That's something every CIO and IT pro should be able to get behind and get past all that FUD once and for all.