Is Bigger, Better in the Cloud?

April 2, 2012
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Bigger is better – is a phrase that’s widely assumed to be self-evident. However, whether it is cruise ships capsizing, or international banks catching a major cold/flu in the 2008 Financial Crisis, we know that while there’s presumably safety in the concept of “size” there can also be inherent complexity and subsequent risk. 

Bigger is better – is a phrase that’s widely assumed to be self-evident. However, whether it is cruise ships capsizing, or international banks catching a major cold/flu in the 2008 Financial Crisis, we know that while there’s presumably safety in the concept of “size” there can also be inherent complexity and subsequent risk. 

Risk management is a critical topic business and IT professionals must take into account in terms of cloud computing.  And especially for mission critical data such as human resources, payroll, financial or even patient data, security and privacy of sensitive data is a paramount concern when considering cloud delivery models.  

But in cloud computing, risk comes in other forms as well including financial viability, especially when there seems to be a new cloud entrant in the marketplace every week. New and attractive markets usually attract entrants at a sizzling pace, however, when the eventual market shakeup comes due, there’s also a chance your cloud provider might go out of business completely, taking your data and applications with them.

And let’s not forget operational risk in the cloud, where it might be assumed large cloud providers might have the upper hand in hiring the talent and expertise necessary to manage inherently complex cloud environments.   However, all the talent in the world is not going to save an environment that’s poorly architected, tightly coupled, and one operational mistake (or bad decision) away from catastrophic meltdown.

Ultimately, one cannot master risk. Instead, management of risks is about all we can hope for.

Mark Twain once famously said; “put all your eggs in one basket – and then watch that basket.” However, Mr. Twain surely didn’t have cloud computing on the mind when he spoke.

For IT and business professionals considering cloud computing solutions, it’s probably tempting to short-list those providers that have a sizable and large cloud computing presence (e.g. the top ten largest and established vendors). However, for a few of these companies, cloud computing is an ancillary business and there’s no guarantee that strategic plans won’t shift to the point that spin-offs aren’t a possibility. In addition, with cloud computing margins already thinning by some estimates, there’s also a good chance investor pressures may force cloud providers to skimp on redundancy or recklessly cut corners elsewhere.

Long way of saying, when it comes to cloud computing, I’m not convinced there’s safety in numbers, nor that a bigger presence and/or market share signals a fundamentally better offer.

Questions:

  • When it comes to cloud computing, do you believe bigger is better and possibly safer?
  • What criteria do you look for in assessing a cloud provider?