To Cloud or Not to Cloud

Last week week, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said that he foresees a nightmares caused by data stored in remote servers.  In a recent CNET article Woz explained just how the legalities of the cloud would make human beings’ lives even more painful. “With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away,” he said.

Wozniak’s words raises a good question: What should or should not your company put into the cloud?

I see tremendous value of cloud technologies for small businesses and the consumer market. However, I get nervous when major corporations start putting everything in the cloud because I worry how much control they’ll have once everything is up there.

For example, let’s say you put your management system into the cloudand there is major solar flare activity or other event that knocks down major power grids and telecommunication networks. As a result, your organization could be unable to perform patch updates or could have limited ability to monitor security vulnerabilities because your application will be unavailable.

I see tremendous value of cloud technologies for small businesses and the consumer market. However, I get nervous when major corporations start putting everything in the cloud because I worry how much control they’ll have once everything is up there.

Don’t  think something like that could happen? Last week India’s Northern and Eastern grids crashed leaving 600 million people without power. Most cloud companies have sophisticated redundancy, failover and disaster recovery technologies, however this would not matter if 50 percent of America’s power grid was knocked down as organizations would not have access to applications and data.

It certainly is possible to manage your hardware and software using a SaaS based application, but it has to fit strategically into your business model. For larger organizations, having a management system to manage throughout your local network infrastructure as well as in the cloud (Hybrid Cloud) should be seriously considered.  There are several implications to be considered when using SaaS applications, cloud storage or other cloud services including security, compatibility issues, compliance, standardization, and monitoring.

Other questions you should ask yourself when considering a cloud solution include: How do you protect something you can’t control? Are you willing to rely on someone else to do it for you? With your data in the cloud, spanning multiple time zones, and in servers located in multiple countries, can your SaaS provider guarantee a suitable level of availability and meet their service levels? With no standards in place with SaaS based technologies, can they guarantee quality and reliability? With all your data in someone else’s hands, can they provide end-to-end monitoring of YOUR data?

I don’t necessarily have “the world is going to end” mentality that Wozniak has with cloud technology, but I think the risks have to be seriously considered and every implication weighed evenly. The cloud, although cool for some things, could result in problems for organizations if they do not plan it out effectively with their providers.

What do you think?

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