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Beware of ‘cloud-wash’

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In recent months, many organisations have invested in supposed cloud solutions, only to find that the promised benefits don’t exist. This is because they are using “washed cloud”, otherwise known as “fake cloud”: a marketing ploy through which a legacy product or service is rebranded or repackaged to be associated with “cloud”. 

“With cloud washing, a supplier will take an existing legacy application and host it for a customer,” says Sandra Crous, managing director of payroll and HR software company PaySpace. “It is not a native cloud or true cloud application; it’s really just the old programme 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,” she says. “Confusion creeps in, because many do not understand that a programme’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) in place. “It’s a safe bet to say that any software that cannot boast these features is simply a cloud washed programme, and should be avoided at all costs.”

Should businesses insist on only true cloud solutions? “Native cloud solutions are the only way forward, particularly in payroll and HR environments,” says Crous. “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.

“We are seeing extremely slow response times on hosted solutions, with customers complaining that none of the usual measures seem to increase speed to acceptable standards.”

With on-premise systems that need to be manually updated, there is always the risk of falling behind when implementing critical legislative updates, she explains.

Read more on the next page about cloud-washing.

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