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Cloud: The Dark Side

The cloud is getting more and more worthy of your applications every day. But that doesn't mean it's perfect and that doesn't mean you should necessarily trust it. I guess the question is, which network is less perfect, the cloud provider's or yours? These are issues Margaret Dawson tackled in Cloud Computing: Panacea or Power Monger on Enterprise Systems Journal. Dawson is a vice president with cloud provider Symform.

You should already understand your network's weaknesses. Now let's look at your provider's presumed shortcomings.

First, many cloud provider networks are highly centralized. They may seem safe and secure with data centers behind locked doors with security guards, but thieves and terrorists are not the threat. Natural disasters may be. If your data is in one big data center, that is a single point of failure. A massive power outage, hurricane, flood could all put your business off line. And it's not just the data center, but the network connections coming to and from the data center that are points of failure.

Cloud providers love to get their calculators out and show you how much you save by getting rid of capital expenses. But operational expenses are real money too, and these add up, especially when hidden costs are involved.

Before we get to vendor hidden costs, there are IT hidden costs. Cloud apps are network intensive. Getting your WAN ready for the cloud can cost serious bucks.

Now let's get to vendor hidden costs. A lot of providers advertise some pretty sweet deals, even offering free services. But like smart phone plans, exceed the limits and you could pay dearly. Before signing on the dotted line, find out what you will realistically use -- that's what you will realistically pay for! Build this and a little buffer into your budget. If the number looks too big, shop around and stick with what you've got.

The cloud is a big change, and once you move it is hard to go back. Ask a lot of questions and make sure of the answers. What does it take to integrate your existing data sets and apps? If you don't like your provider, how do you move to another and what are the penalties?

Learn more from Margaret Dawson's fine piece here.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/21/2012 at 12:47 PM


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