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The Cloud is brewing up a storm..

I paraphrase a really interesting article on the BBC website about Cloud computing. Read the actual article HERE

“Cloud computing may be the hottest thing in corporate computing right now, but two IT disasters – at Amazon and Sony – beg the question: Is cloud computing ready for primetime business?

The cloud is sucking up everything, but seems to have numerous lightning strikes as well.

It’s a nightmare moment. You are under pressure – to meet customer orders, finish a project, execute a deal – and nothing. Your computers, servers or network are down. If you are lucky, a few nail biting hours and a reboot or three later, you and your IT team have restored services.
What if your IT infrastructure goes down and there’s nothing you can do because your computing power sits in the cloud, provided over the internet by another company?

When a key part of Amazon’s EC2 cloud service collapsed, many of the firm’s customers were reduced to publishing apologies on their websites, and click “refresh” on Amazon’s service health dashboard.

Two of Sony’s online gaming services, meanwhile, were hacked, compromising confidential data of more than 100 million customers.
The twin worries of cloud computing, security and resilience, are back, just as the promise of huge cost savings persuaded many companies to make the jump. 2011, experts said, would be the year when companies would get their business ready for the cloud.
According to a new global study by IBM, more than 60% of organisations plan to “embrace cloud computing over the next five years” to boost their “competitive advantage.”

Time for a rethink?

“A cloud is not a cloud is not a cloud,” says John Engates, chief technology officer at cloud services provider Rackspace. Every kind of cloud service requires a different risk assessment.

There are cloud services for consumers holding masses of customer data. Sony had to take its service offline for four weeks. A nasty bump for the global consumer electronics giant, potentially lethal had it happened to a smaller business. Then there are infrastructure and platform services for companies that provide cheap storage, raw computing power, or software as a service. When a software upgrade at Amazon’s data centre in North Virginia went wrong, many companies using the service disappeared from the face of the online world for a full four days.

Cloud computing may be cheap, but robust back-up solutions cost money. Cloud users will have to re-examine how many copies of their data they need, and where to keep them, says Mr Engates from Rackspace.

When cloud services fail, the data is likely to get lost, and recovery is slow at best.
After Google’s cloud-based email service crashed, says Joe Heiser, “it took Google four days to restore [the data of] 0.02% of the users of a single service.”

“We do not believe that the cloud is ready for everything yet,” admits Rackspace’s John Engates, but believes that cloud services can be part of the solution.”

Read the actual BBC article HERE


My take on Cloud? It’s way too early to be swept up by the hype of the Cloud. I will stick to our dedicated servers at Rackspace (quoted above) until the Cloud stops precipitating.

If you want to use the cloud, get some advice first, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be – yet.

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