In my 15 years of IT experience no term has annoyed me more then the “Cloud”. For starters, the term “Cloud” is a simplification of the idea of hosted services for non-technical decision makers. For the past 10 years or so businesses have been successfully using hosted services in many ways, what is changing is how that service is conceptualized and how it is marketed. At the same time it is also becoming less and less transparent.
Whats the difference between a company maintaining a hosted server environment in a datacenter vs a cloud services?
Effectively there is no difference. Many companies buy and maintain there own servers, place them in a secure datacenter, and achieve a stable hosted environment. But in a world of cost reduction, some companies pinch their IT budget and lose key staff and begin to outsource. This is where cloud services latched on. Cloud providers rush in and convince managers that outsourcing everything is the way to go, no hardware to buy, no large staff needed, just pay us to do it all for you for one flat fee.
Sounds great right?
The problem is the cloud provider needs to make money too, and since they are effectively running and deploying the same hardware you would use, they need to cut corners to make a profit. The easiest way to do this is using refurbished hardware and over subscribing it across multiple clients, and also running a more cost effective datacenter with less features. By cost effective datacenter, I really mean a “cheap” datacenter. You might say to yourself, how can a cloud provider get away with this? Simple. There is no transparency. 95% of cloud providers never disclose where their datacenter is or what its capabilities are. You cant go and see it for yourself. Because the “Cloud” solution is cleverly marketed, buyers forget to verify that the service is powered by an actual reliable network and facility. This happens whenever products are sold and re-packaged, you assume the provider takes on that responsibility and since they have an SLA in their contract, its not your problem. But it is your problem. Its still your data, your application. You need to know where it lives, you need to confirm the facility is redundant, has fire protection, has an aggressive and high speed network, uses top-of-line hardware not refurbished servers.
Cloud Services allow providers to effectively hide their operations from plain view. In the current environment of accountability, it is extremely important to make sure you know whats going on behind the scenes. At the end of the day if your cloud provider losses your data, yeah, its their fault, but guess what…. your data is still gone. Having someone to blame for a failure doesn’t make it any better. Why not try and avoid the failure from ever happening.