Fake cloud vs true cloud

Issue 7 2020 IT infrastructure

In recent months, many organisations have invested in fake cloud solutions only to find out that the benefits they thought they were going to realise by embarking on a cloud-first strategy have not materialised.

This is because washed cloud, otherwise known as ‘fake cloud’, is nothing more than a marketing ploy through which a legacy product or service is rebranded or repackaged to be associated with the buzzword ‘cloud’.

So says Sandra Crous, managing director of payroll and HR SaaS innovation leader, PaySpace. “With cloud washing, a supplier will take an existing legacy application and host it for a customer. It is not a native cloud (or true cloud) application; it’s really just the old program with the word ‘cloud’ attached to it.

She says there are several motivations for companies to cloud-wash their software. They do this to retain customers or to attract new customers who don’t have a thorough understanding of the cloud, or to boost sales. Sometimes they do this in a last-ditch attempt to remain relevant.

“Suppliers sometimes push customers to make a decision to commit to their solution and do it fast. Confusion creeps in, because many do not understand that a program’s ability to connect to the cloud does not necessarily make it a native cloud solution. Nor does the fact that software can be accessed via the Internet make it a true cloud solution – native cloud software is designed and purpose-built specifically for cloud environments.”

She says true cloud offerings should offer a self-serviceable, multi-tenancy architecture with a pay-as-you-use cost model, disaster recovery, security and redundancy systems (to account for host network downtime). “It’s a safe bet to say that any software that cannot boast these features is simply a cloud-washed program and should be avoided at all costs.”

Should businesses insist on only true cloud solutions? “Absolutely,” says Crous. “Native cloud solutions are the only way forward, particularly in payroll and HR environments. The majority of businesses want to move to cloud applications to gain benefits such as improved efficiency as a result of multi-tenancy, saving on internal server and other hardware costs such as maintenance and security, and more importantly, being able to pay for only what they use. With true cloud, you should never be locked into a contract with very little to no manoeuvrability.”

With on-premise systems that need to be manually updated, there is always the risk of falling behind when implementing critical legislative updates. In addition, when updates are managed manually, there is more room for human error. With native cloud applications, all updates are done automatically with no manual intervention, which eliminates errors and ensures that businesses will always be compliant.

Another area where hosted solutions fall flat, is that they tend to be more labour intensive and really offer dated technology filtered through the cloud. “With native cloud software, you are guaranteed to have the latest and best technology at your fingertips and realise the benefits of this. The same number of people in a team can work more efficiently, thanks to seamless API integration enabling automation of previously manual tasks, allowing employees from the payroll department through to IT to focus on their core, productive work.”

Then there is the question of cost savings, she says. “Do not be fooled by simply switching to a monthly fixed subscription amount, as true cloud applications will bill according to the actual usage instead of splitting annual licence fee amounts into monthly invoices. You pay for what you use; no more, no less.”

Finally, Crous says one of the most compelling benefits of native cloud solutions is that they allow for seamless scaling, which boosts efficiency and reduces costs. “With true cloud solutions, you never have to physically build capacity and you can scale up and down, adding thousands of employees if needed in a matter of seconds, with no need to change software applications or upgrade hardware.”

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