How the Cloud Made Computing Harder, Not Easier

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The cloud is making the lives of IT pros more difficult; however, there are ways to simplify cloud management.

Remember when cloud computing was supposed to make the lives of IT pros easier? When PaaS and IaaS would free IT teams of the burden of physical infrastructure management, and SaaS would make it easy to deliver applications to any user, in any location, at any time?

The cloud did those things, to be sure. But overall, the cloud has made the lives of IT engineers (and developers, and security teams, and virtually everyone else who plays a hand in modern IT) harder, not easier.

The question that remains to answer is: Why? Why did cloud computing end up making the jobs of IT departments harder and more time-consuming, while also exposing businesses to new types of cybersecurity threats and increasing overall IT spending?

Let’s explore that question by walking through how the cloud evolved and the factors that have resulted in a cloud computing ecosystem that is much more complex than it arguably needed to be.

Why Managing the Cloud Is Hard

Again, it’s certainly true that the cloud has simplified computing in certain respects. It has allowed the majority of businesses to say goodbye to managing physical infrastructure. It has also placed sophisticated tools and services — like managed Kubernetes environments and cloud-based big data services — into the hands of IT organizations that would struggle to implement these technologies themselves on-premises due to limitations of staffing or expertise.

But in other ways, the cloud has added a great deal of difficulty to the lives of IT practitioners:

  • More tools to master: Instead of only having to become experts in server administration or learn the ins and outs of Linux CLI tools, today’s IT pros also have to master various vendor-specific cloud computing tools and services.
  • New types of tooling: The cloud introduced (or made widespread) certain categories of tools that wouldn’t exist — and therefore wouldn’t have to be managed — in on-premises environments. Before the cloud, few IT teams had to worry about writing IAM policies, for example, or figuring out how to connect remote, cloud-based workloads to a VPN.
  • More complex budgets: The cloud allowed businesses to shift to an OpEx model for infrastructure needs. But it also made it much harder, in many cases, to predict costs reliably, due to the byzantine pricing schedules that cloud providers impose on users.
  • More options: Cloud computing gives IT teams a much wider range of options when it comes to how and where they will host workloads. But that also means they have to spend more time evaluating and validating different approaches. In an on-premises world, there was a limited selection of ways to do things, and less time spent trying to optimize strategies.
  • Limited visibility: In some cases, the amount of visibility and control that IT teams have over cloud workloads is limited. Many cloud services only expose certain types of metrics and logs, for instance, and they almost never allow customers to look at what’s happening in the underlying infrastructure. This means IT teams have less information to operate with, although they are expected to maintain the same (or better) levels of performance and availability that they did in the days when on-prem reigned supreme.

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