What Happens When There’s No Cloud?

Old Man Yells at CloudEarlier today Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud experienced a significant outage, bringing down some major websites, notably GitHub, Reddit, and Imgur, among others. While certainly an inconvenience for end users and a major headache for the sites in question, what I’m wondering is how many of those Amazon EC2 servers were running internal processes for companies that had moved some or all of their services to the cloud? Risk managers need to keep these kinds of incidents in mind when considering cloud providers.

One of the services many in the enterprise take for granted is data accessibility. If Netflix or Reddit goes down for an afternoon, it’s unlikely that your business productivity will be affected. But what happens if you’ve moved your file server or SharePoint infrastructure to the cloud? We often think of data services as a technology asset, so relocating them to the cloud is mostly a matter of managing costs and SLAs. But the data itself isn’t a technology asset—it’s a business or organizational one. The data doesn’t belong to IT, it belongs to the users who leverage it for (hopefully) revenue-generating activity.

There are certainly going to be use cases where it makes sense to move data services into the cloud, but as service providers we need to keep in mind exactly what tradeoffs exist and what we give up by renting someone’s infrastructure.

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