Cloud. What cloud? What happens if it goes away.

By Patricia Egen • September 16th, 2013

What, no cloud?

Recently, two of my customers suffered huge business losses because their applications were unaccessbile on their cloud solutions.  I am not a proponent of putting everything in the cloud for just this reason.  These clients were ones who went down this path because someone else suggested that putting every business process in the Cloud was a “good thing.”  Well, yes, until the cloud is not available.

For one customer, it cost them over $50,000 to be down for a day.  A very large deal fell through the cracks and the customer went elsewhere.  The other client lost several thousand dollars in invoice revenue because they could not bill their customers.

I understand why people have been woo’ed by the thought of keeping everything safe and sound, up in the cloud, where all things are great and wonderful and birds chirp, and angels sing and nothing goes wrong. BANG. Reality check time. Things do indeed go wrong and with dramatic results.

Before, people put a few applications up on a cloud.  But now, they are being convinced that they should put all their business processes there including accounting and payroll.  Miss a payroll, and you have the government calling on you along with a lot of lawyers.  So, why would people even consider this option?

I lived and worked in Florida all my life up until 20 years ago.  All of the companies I worked for had disaster recovery programs because when a hurricane hit you were down for several days – maybe even weeks.  But when we designed those systems, we decided which apps were mission critical – ie the business shuts down if they are not available.  Some were deemed so critical that there were computers designated for only those roles.

In addition, I come from the mainframe world where we were judged on a monthly basis on how “available” the systems were.  The mission was to have 99.9% up time.  Which made it interesting when we wanted to do systems work – it’s hard to keep a 99.9% up time when you need to bring down the system to do the work.  So, when I hear people saying “oh it’s ok that the cloud is down sometimes” I cringe and shriek and break out in hives.  When did things change?  When did people forget  that “system up time” meant just that – UP. Not DOWN.

Which brings me to a thought? How do you back up the cloud?  What are your disaster recovery plans when you move everything into vaporware and it’s not there? Do you have a backup plan? Do you have something that will get you up and running?  Guess what?  The answer is NO for most people.

So, do I think everything should be in the Clouds (which, by the way, we used to call Centralized a few years ago – new name, higher price tag, same thing)?  Only if you have a backup plan and can get to the data another way.  Then, and only then, do I think everything in the clouds is ok.  Unless, of course,  you work somewhere where you can keep the customers at bay for a couple of days.  That’s not my company, by the way.

Comments

Nicely put Pat.

It’s kind of funny how we, as the human animal, so often get wooed by the new and shiny.

Rationality and well thought out business case for making a change go out the window, details get lost in the “high” of a new computing “toy”…

Are we making a technology shift because it is an honest-to-goodness improvement or for bragging rights that we have the “latest and greatest”…?

Great post, Pat. Appreciate your “Florida” perspective on up time too.

When I think of cloud, my thoughts do not conjure images of clear skies and certainty. There are too many unknowns from unauthorized access to loss of control, which is why I still hold firm to responsible/ownership of on-premise data solutions, with redundant system options and self-hosted web apps.

In ’84 when I named my company “Uptime” Business Solutions I committed first to constant, secure and rapid availability of data. Looking at the name a little differently, it also established a professional independence as it also means “up ti me” (Up to me.) I like my company data to be independently managed, too.

 

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