I came across this article just now, titled “These Issues Need to be Resolved Before Cloud Computing Becomes Ubiquitous”:
The article raises some valid concerns, which I’d like to discuss. In particular, Anita Campbell outlines three issues that she feels need to be resolved:
- Mobile apps have terrible interfaces for mission critical business apps
- Security and privacy of data are still wild card issues
- Customer service for Web apps leaves a lot to be desired
Mobile apps have terrible interfaces for mission critical business apps
I agree that, for doing serious work, using web based business apps on a tablet or smartphone can be tedious and lacking in features. Because pure web apps often compromise on features and useability, we specifically selected Citrix Xenapp technology as a delivery mechanism for our cloud service because Xenapp makes it possible to deliver traditional windows apps to mobile devices, so our customers can continue to use the exact same apps they used before. No retraining required.
Having said that, there are still obvious usability issues with some Windows apps when run from tablets and smartphones. Yes, you can pinch and zoom and that helps, but that gets tedious pretty quickly. Also, fingers are pudgy and the screens are small 🙂
That’s where the flexibility of Citrix Receiver really shines…
You can easily connect a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to an Android 4.x based tablet or smartphone (unfortunately, not iPad nor iPhone – blame Apple) and Citrix Receiver will seamlessly integrate those peripheral devices into the remote experience. Also, if the tablet has an HDMI out connection, then you can connect to a larger screen and transform the tablet into a very useable launch pad for running a Cloud Desktop or individual Cloud Apps. I do just that with my Samsung Galaxy S3 superphone and with my Blackberry Playbook tablet.
Security and privacy of data are still wild card issues
Fundamental to enticing SMBs to move to the cloud is convincing them that cloud computing can offer better security than their in-house IT systems do. The reality is that a Windows operating system (i.e. Windows 7) is the same whether it’s running in the cloud or running on a physical PC. So, it’s not inherently more secure to run a Windows Desktop in the cloud.
Having said that, there are a few key differences that a good Cloud Desktop provider can bring to the table that provide real security benefits. Here are just a few examples:
- Locking down some Windows settings and services that users typically don’t need access to, thereby making it harder for viruses and other malware to gain a foothold
- Preventing users from running as local administrators, which likewise mitigates against viruses and malware
- Preventing mapping of external storage devices, which can transfer viruses and malware
- Providing anti-virus and anti-spam filtering of mailboxes
- Installing security patches for apps and to the Windows OS on a more frequent basis
- Providing better firewall protection at the perimeter of the network that incorporates intrusion detection and prevention technologies not available in consumer class firewalls that SMBs typically buy
- Filtering web traffic to safeguard against viruses and malicious websites without impeding access to safe sites
- Providing superior physical security and availability at the data center, including redundant hardware, 24×7 security cameras, 24×7 onsite security personnel, secure access cards, locked server cages, proper environmental controls, fire suppression systems, redundant Internet and power connections, etc
I could go on…
While SMBs could employ those security measures in-house, it’s typically cost prohibitive to do so.
Customer service for Web apps leaves a lot to be desired
I can’t speak for other cloud service providers, but VCIT strives to provide an uncompromising level of service to our customers. For us, Cloud Desktops and Cloud Apps isn’t a side business or an afterthought, it’s our core service and we demonstrate our integrity by providing exceptional service. We feel that’s the only way to build a business that will achieve long-term success.
We offer phone, email, and web (eTicket) based support and our goal is to respond to each and every customer problem within 30 minutes. It’s a level of service that, frankly, the big cloud providers can’t touch…