VM Junkie

February 28, 2011

Some reasons why you shouldn’t be “all in” when it comes to Cloud…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Justin Emerson @ 9:45 pm

Where I work I spend a lot of time talking to customers about “cloud,” whatever the hell it means these days. Unfortunately the definition has gotten so polluted as of late (and these Microsoft commercials aren’t helping) that most people don’t know what the heck it means anymore. But what everyone can agree on is no matter what kind of cloud you’re talking about, if it’s not a private cloud of some sort, you’re giving some kind of control or responsibility for your data and your applications to someone else. This sounds great on paper: it’s like out-sourcing my IT! We know how much business folk like out-sourcing. It’s so popular it got its own sitcom!

But recently there have been a couple high-profile events that should give us all pause before recommending people move everything to the cloud. A while back it was the story of a man whose entire Flickr account was deleted accidentally by a support technician, and then apparently Flickr had no backups. Fortunately the story had a happy ending (they restored his stuff) but I’ll bet you that man isn’t storing the only copies of his photos in Flickr, anymore. Then there was work that Gmail went down and deleted mailboxes of more than 100,000 users. Restoration of these is still ongoing. What prompted me to write this blog post, though, was the nail in the coffin of Danger.

You may remember Danger (now part of Microsoft) was in the news before, when they performed what was later reported as an array firmware upgrade without a good backup and lost the cloud data of every T-Mobile Sidekick phone. After finally recovering somewhat from that debacle, Microsoft and T-Mobile have announced that they are shutting down Sidekick service permanently at the end of May. Thankfully, they are working on giving customers ways of getting their data out, but what if they decided it wasn’t worth their time or money?

The Cloud presents a huge business opportunity, but also a huge business risk for customers. That’s why VMware’s vCloud strategy is so critical. I’m not going to repeat the Hotel California analogy (because frankly it doesn’t really jive with the song lyrics, I prefer the “roach motel” analogy) but it’s very important not only to be able to go “all in” to the cloud, but also all out. Otherwise, you and your data could be at the mercy of your cloud provider. What if you’re a Terremark customer who can’t stand Verizon? What if Amazon decides to shut down EC2 next week because it’s not making them enough money anymore? All of these things are real concerns that should give CIOs pause before heaving their critical applications over the wall to let someone else run for them.

I see a lot of people give the analogy that cloud computing makes computing a utility, like electricity. You just pay for what you use!

My retort: How many customers have their own UPS and Generators on-site, because they don’t trust the power company? Be careful with your analogies.

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