We were recently asked to comment on “the cloud” – so an analysis of what cloud computing is would be a good starting point.
Anyone with a hotmail, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn profile already uses “cloud” computing. As far as the common interpretation of “moving to the cloud” (ie putting all centralised processing systems in ‘internet land’) – my personal opinion is that very careful consideration needs to be given to what a company puts on web based server space over which they don’t have control, particularly re security and location. This is especially the case with a faceless, nameless and often poorly supported organisation – especially the big name ones that we are all aware of. Do companies want to have critical systems that affect sales, productivity, order taking, internal work flow, case management, CRM, ERP, MRP etc reliant on a single point of failure for ALL centralised computing? (ie, web connection). I am certain not all companies are ready to trust this, despite the hype – there are several nightmare stories out there about of lack of availability, security breaches, lack of ability to get data back in house, etc.
However, as a company, we do provide two so called “cloud” solutions (off site data backup and fault tolerant, resilient, dedicated web server hosting solutions) and I feel they have a very valuable place in modern IT infrastructure decisions and policies. But I still view the overall concept of all company systems hosted in the cloud with scepticism. In our case, the services we offer are accessed by web connection of course – but they are not hosted overseas and they do not have a faceless, nameless company looking after them with poor support. Our services have hands on personal support from real UK based people; data centre locations are all in UK (mostly Manchester area) – so we offer more of a “private cloud” scenario – with true levels of security, resilience and multiple site D/R protection and failover. Even though it would be in our financial interest to accept it, I would think twice before accepting a new hosting client who wants to put all of their central processing systems in the cloud. It would have to be a very in depth analysis of what they are looking to host – and the pros and cons of such a decision.
So – anyone out there thinking of going to cloud computing – I suggest consider the differences between “cloud” and value added secure “private cloud”. There IS a difference. Deciding what is put out in cloud space and what is kept in house is a vital exercise to undertake.