What’s in The Cloud… For Me? (Part 2 of 3)

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Posted by: briansittley Comments: 0 0 Post Date: February 19, 2010

Part Two of a Three Part Series

In my previous post, we looked at The Cloud – what it is, simply stated (computing over the Internet) — and some of the advantages of this much-hyped new computing paradigm that takes advantage of the growing ubiquity of the Internet.  Here, we’ll look at a few disadvantages or cautions.

Serving up software over the Internet goes by its own acronym: SaaS – Software as a Service.  Following are among the issues that have to be considered when looking at the Cloud/SaaS mode of computing.

The first is also the most obvious: you have to have an Internet connection.  If you have high-speed access everywhere you go (i.e., you live and work in a big city with an abundance of wireless or WiFi and big pipes), then you’re in good shape.  Not everyone does.  And no one does all the time (on a flight, for example).  Also, you have to be able to maintain a clean connection.  If you lose connection, you risk losing work (sometimes, not always).

Secondly, functionality may not be the same between the programs you are used to today, and their Cloud counterparts.  This, we think, will diminish over time as the aps become more sophisticated and mature.  Still, it’s something to think about.  If your most important programs don’t work on, or have a cloud equivalent, you’re out of luck.

Thirdly, there are speed issues.  If you’ve ever noticed that the work you do online is a bit, shall we say, bumpy, well, then you know what I’m talking about.  SaaS/Cloud can be slow.

A fourth consideration is part actual, part psychological.  When your programs and your data (and I emphasize here, your data) reside on your own servers, you can usually walk down the hall and see, hear and touch them.  There’s a certain comfort in knowing that if it’s that close, then if something goes wrong, there must be something I can do to fix it, because after all… it’s right there.

On the cloud, in a very real sense, your data is far away, and out of your control.  That’s real.  If the power goes down, or the Internet goes down, there isn’t anything you can do.  (Of course, if the power goes down in your own office, there’s not much you can do either.)  But if your data gets lost in the Cloud, you’re toast.  (Assuming you didn’t back it up to some local machine, which is almost an oxymoron.)  As tech writer Michael Miller puts it: “Relying on the cloud puts you at risk if the cloud lets you down.”

Critics have expressed concerns about data security, integrity, up-time reliability, hackers, and all the rest.  Those are real concerns, and having a secure network in house behind a firewall does provide a measure of added comfort and security.  Ultimately it comes down, for companies, to whether you feel you can trust a third party with your company’s data.  Each person has to answer that question on his or her own.

Next up… sorting it out: Candidates for Cloud (or Not).

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