Is Cloud Right Alternative to a Server for a Business?

Why not put everything in the cloud? Services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Windows Azure, and Rackspace Cloud Hosting offer a number of benefits. For starters, they don't involve a significant capital outlay, and you won’t need an IT staff to manage the server. You won’t need to worry about the equipment or software becoming outdated or obsolete, either. In the days when businesses relied on big-iron mainframes, this strategy was called "time sharing." And the cloud is burdened with many of the same limitations as that model was.

The stability and reliability of whichever service provider you choose is your first and most important concern. If that firm goes belly-up or experiences a disaster, your business could quickly grind to a halt. What’s worse is that you could temporarily or permanently lose access to all your data. If you lose your connection to the Internet, you’ll be cut off from your applications and data, and your employees won’t be able to share files. You could lose the ability to manage your business until your Internet connection is restored. And if your business uses large files, and your broadband connection is too slow, your operation’s productivity will suffer.

Storing your data on equipment outside your immediate control also brings up privacy and security concerns. And although you’re not paying for an IT staff, ongoing maintenance, and investments in new capital equipment directly, you’re still incurring a share of those costs indirectly--they’re reflected in the fees you’re paying the service provider. The cloud is no cure-all.

Here are some other commonly cited concerns about cloud computing:

  1. Privacy: How much data are cloud companies like Google collecting about you, and how might that information be used?
  2. Availability: Will your cloud service go down unexpectedly, leaving you without access to critical customer records, e-mail, or other information for hours or more? Gmail outages are widely reported, but Salesforce.com and other well-established services have gone dark on occasion, too.
  3. Data loss: Some online storage sites have shut down abruptly, sending users scrambling to recover their data, sometimes with only 24 hours' notice. And T-Mobile Sidekick users were unhappy to discover that their personal data had been erased from their devices--especially when Microsoft said that the data loss was irrevocable. (A few days later, Microsoft announced that it had recovered most of the data.)
  4. Data mobility and ownership: Will you be able to share data between different cloud services? If you decide to stop using a cloud service, can you get all of your data back? What format will it be in? How can you be certain that the cloud service will destroy all of your data once you’ve severed ties with it?
  5. Tool robustness: Cloud-based tools frequently aren't as powerful as software applications. Google Docs, for instance, lacks a number of features that Microsoft Office has had for years, such as the ability to track changes in a document.

It’s not difficult to find instances of security breaches in cloud computing, of course. On the other hand, you can’t entirely eliminate risk from any computing environment. Intruders may hack into files stored on your business’s own servers or hard drives. Hard drives may fail.

Let us help you build a server architecture that's best-suited for your specific business use. We will not just build but we can also manage your application infrastructure for you. If you’d like to discuss any of the above best practices or lessons learned with us or to learn more about how we are partnering with companies just like yours to ensure the availability of mission-critical applications, please contact us at (855) BY STELLAR.

Is Cloud Right Alternative to a Server for a Business?

Is Cloud Right Alternative to a Server for a Business?

Why not put everything in the cloud? Services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Windows Azure, and Rackspace Cloud Hosting offer a number of benefits. For starters, they don't involve a significant capital outlay, and you won’t need an IT staff to manage the server. You won’t need to worry about the equipment or software becoming outdated or obsolete, either. In the days when businesses relied on big-iron mainframes, this strategy was called "time sharing." And the cloud is burdened with many of the same limitations as that model was.

The stability and reliability of whichever service provider you choose is your first and most important concern. If that firm goes belly-up or experiences a disaster, your business could quickly grind to a halt. What’s worse is that you could temporarily or permanently lose access to all your data. If you lose your connection to the Internet, you’ll be cut off from your applications and data, and your employees won’t be able to share files. You could lose the ability to manage your business until your Internet connection is restored. And if your business uses large files, and your broadband connection is too slow, your operation’s productivity will suffer.

Storing your data on equipment outside your immediate control also brings up privacy and security concerns. And although you’re not paying for an IT staff, ongoing maintenance, and investments in new capital equipment directly, you’re still incurring a share of those costs indirectly--they’re reflected in the fees you’re paying the service provider. The cloud is no cure-all.

Here are some other commonly cited concerns about cloud computing:

  1. Privacy: How much data are cloud companies like Google collecting about you, and how might that information be used?
  2. Availability: Will your cloud service go down unexpectedly, leaving you without access to critical customer records, e-mail, or other information for hours or more? Gmail outages are widely reported, but Salesforce.com and other well-established services have gone dark on occasion, too.
  3. Data loss: Some online storage sites have shut down abruptly, sending users scrambling to recover their data, sometimes with only 24 hours' notice. And T-Mobile Sidekick users were unhappy to discover that their personal data had been erased from their devices--especially when Microsoft said that the data loss was irrevocable. (A few days later, Microsoft announced that it had recovered most of the data.)
  4. Data mobility and ownership: Will you be able to share data between different cloud services? If you decide to stop using a cloud service, can you get all of your data back? What format will it be in? How can you be certain that the cloud service will destroy all of your data once you’ve severed ties with it?
  5. Tool robustness: Cloud-based tools frequently aren't as powerful as software applications. Google Docs, for instance, lacks a number of features that Microsoft Office has had for years, such as the ability to track changes in a document.

It’s not difficult to find instances of security breaches in cloud computing, of course. On the other hand, you can’t entirely eliminate risk from any computing environment. Intruders may hack into files stored on your business’s own servers or hard drives. Hard drives may fail.

Let us help you build a server architecture that's best-suited for your specific business use. We will not just build but we can also manage your application infrastructure for you. If you’d like to discuss any of the above best practices or lessons learned with us or to learn more about how we are partnering with companies just like yours to ensure the availability of mission-critical applications, please contact us at (855) BY STELLAR.