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Cloudy with a chance of rain…



I’m sure by now you’ve seen the commercials where some people are stuck somewhere or in a bind of some sort and they cry out “To the cloud…” and suddenly their dilemma is solved and everything is possible.

I don’t know why these commercials bother me so much, but I guess it’s partly due to the fact that they are not completely accurate.

The “CLOUD” is portrayed as this magical place where all of your ‘stuff’ can exist and you have access to it at any time, from any location.

This idea is nothing new.  As a matter of fact, our online auction software  ( has been a cloud- based solution for our clients for over 15 years now.  And let’s not forget Amazon and Google have been offering cloud hosting for several years now.

So, why all the hype now?  Well partly because Microsoft has finally adopted this idea (a long overdue and great idea) for its Office, SQL and Windows server product lines.

The bigger market for the cloud is that of the companies currently hosting their own servers, either in-house or at a nearby data center.  A cloud-based solution would allow them to move to a more virtual environment and away from the current personnel and hardware resource-intensive one.

For this market though, there is still quite a long way to go before it can be done with total confidence.  There are considerations of redundancy, geographic load balancing and availability that take precedence over the mere convenience of centralized storage and access.

Just last month Amazon (EC2) experienced an 11 hour outage that caused quite a bit of criticism from its clients and many technical media experts.  This event should remind us that no matter who we put our trust in to deliver our services, we are still dealing with the Internet and are all at the mercy of technology.

While events like this don’t mean the cloud is incapable or unacceptable for enterprise level service, it should serve as a reminder that it’s never possible to just ‘set it and forget it’ when it comes to technology.  In determining whether to move to the cloud, we, the service providers, must make sure that all possible scenarios have been taken into consideration and all security and availability precautions have been put into place.

After all, it’s of little consequence to you, our clients, whose fault it is if something isn’t working.


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