Why You Shouldn’t Trust the Cloud Too Much

dark cloudsThe latest headlines in cloud business trends is a bit disturbing; while many articles highlight the interesting cloud trends forecasts, cloud acquisitions and wars among the cloud giants, one headline bothers me: AWS brings down Netflix – again.

This cloud outage news gets me thinking… should we really trust the cloud that much?

We know that cloud providers and the media seem to advocate the cloud as THE solution for increased productivity and reduced costs; this has been going on and on in the past few years. Some cloud “watchdogs” are overseeing the trends and carefully warn businesses about the potential danger of trusting too much on the cloud.

I am always on the pro-cloud side; I am, indeed, a cloud user. But while a couple of years ago I would strongly recommend people to consider the cloud without hesitation, today, I would advise the otherwise. Why?

Unlike what some experts suggest, the cloud is far from mature.

Cloud computing is still yet to reach its peak; it’s still experiencing hiccups. Let’s have a look at what Forrester Research analyst Rachel Dines has commented with regard to Netflix outage. According to her article on ZDNet, while AWS outages are “normal part” in the services provided, as the guaranteed uptime is not 100%, the timing of the outage was awful. It’s on Christmas Eve. Netflix subscribers won’t be able to watch Christmas movies… on Christmas Eve. A disaster.

While some outages are inevitable, some others could be avoided. As reported in another article – this time on WSJ – Dines mentioned that one way to protect against cloud woes are cloud-to-cloud continuity service. When outage happens, the service should automatically route traffic from one cloud to another one.

The service, while logically possible, is not easy; Dines says that this form of disaster recovery is in its infancy because of the complexity in matching formats between two discrete virtual server systems. Danes tells CIO Journal, “It’s not widespread at this point by any means.”

In other words, the cloud is not mature enough to handle such kind of outage. That’s why any cloud service providers claiming 100 percent uptime is, in my opinion, absurd.

What if that “bad timing” happens to your business activities?

Now, let’s translate that into business activities; Suppose you bring the whole business operations to the cloud. And for one reason or another, your cloud services went down. On Christmas shopping season. Not for 5 minutes, but for 3 days. How much will the cloud outage costs your business?

The bottom line, you need a disaster recovery plan to ensure your business continuity; you need to have the answer to the “what if…” as you don’t have a good alternative just yet, as Danes indicated.

What to do?

Well, I am – by any means – not a cloud expert. But as a cloud user and cloud trends follower, I know a thing or two about cloud services. I understand that while the cloud is cool, it’s not for everyone; cloud adoption should be approached on case-by-case basis; I also understand that I can’t expect the cloud services I subscribed to to be 100% up. That’s not possible, although logically the cloud can give you 100% uptime. There’s gotta be some stumbles, until better cloud tech discovered (we’re getting there!)

The best bet for your business, in my opinion, is to adopt hybrid cloud strategy, combining your private cloud with public cloud. When something goes wrong with your public cloud, then your private cloud can take over – and vice versa.

Alternatively, if you don’t have access to the technology above, just be cautious in adopting the cloud. Using the cloud for your backup needs might be one of the most effective usages of the cloud – perhaps better than trusting the cloud with your critical business operations.

To me, the cloud can be your great companion in business continuity, but relying too much on the cloud is probably not ideal today.

How about you? Will you bring your entire business to the cloud? Will you trust your cloud service provider for better or worse? Please share your thought by leaving a comment on this post.

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  • Vince Arden

    I agree that cloud computing is in its infancy as it relates to small and medium business utilization and adoption. I also agree that cloud based business backup and continuity solutions are a good entry point to “testing the waters”.

    Your recommendation to adopt a hybrid cloud solution is what most existing businesses would need to do in order to properly test and transition successfully to the cloud. However, there are instances where making a transition to a cloud based business model makes more sense from a productivity, agility and sometime financial position.

    Every system has downtime whether its in the local office, corporate data center or cloud provider. Does one have more than the other? Which one has the most probability of being down? If a business is currently dealing with a lot of downtime because their local servers and infrastructure is old or not being maintained properly, then maybe moving to a cloud solution would give the decision maker the uptime he needs. Even if on Christmas Eve the cloud solution gave him coal in his stocking.