Cloud Computing Is The Risk Worth The Wait?

Cloud computing was supposed to herald a new age in cost effective data storage.  But after the Amazon fiasco there is little evidence whether it was worth the wait.  Doubts are being raised whether the platform is durable enough to support the data requirements of big conglomerates. Information is power, and when this information is cut off, huge losses are incurred.

The Amazon fiasco

Because Amazon has free storage available, it decided to let it out for a price. Since cost cutting has become extremely important now days companies like Reddit, Quora and Four Squre hired it, after all it was a win-win situation for them. Not only would they save on the cost of operating such a huge volume of data  they would also be spared of spending huge sums of money on servers and their maintenance. However, they forgot Murphy’s Law: When things can go wrong, they will go wrong. And things did go wrong at Amazon Inc. The recent example of outage at Amazon Web Services, once again highlighted the dangers of putting all the information in one basket. Amazon, which is reputedly a giant when it comes to cloud hosting, suffered a massive crash at its North Virginia data center. The crash produced a ripple effect that spread across other locations and resulted in backups creating backups and plugging the storage space.  Users were unable to access data therein resulting in serious business damages and eroding the reliability of AWS. Reddit, Quora, Four Square, Hootsuite are other sites that crashed along with AWS.

The Amazon example has raised once again the viability of cloud hosting. The whole premise for cloud computing is so deceptively simple: low cost storage and computing power coupled with reliable connections, that it lulls one into a false sense of security. As with other deceptively simple ideas which look perfect on paper, there are many things that could go wrong with cloud computing. There are several risks that have to be assessed while evaluating the ROI of setting up a cloud computing platform.

The risks:

  1. Legal Issues: So you have put all your business information on the cloud. Great! But have you ever wondered who may see this information. There is very little you can do if the company holding the information is subpoenaed by a court of law. True there are contractual obligations, but such obligations do not hold ground when force majeure exists. But try telling this to companies who have put all their eggs in one basket: Cloud Computing. Well they did not dwell upon Murphy’s Law.
  2. Unforeseen Disasters: Another variation of Murphy’s Law. Bankruptcies will happen, disasters will strike, and your business related information will be terribly compromised. This is a universal truth if ever there exists one. In the Amazon example, it is believed that a networking glitch caused copies of the data to be made which depleted the storage space available at Amazon’s server spread at different locations. Remember to account for such accidents when you plan your risk strategy.
  3. Policing of data: There is little scope to police you business related information when the data is not under your control. There is no doubt that the information contained within the four walls of your organization is more secure than that stored on overseas servers. Even if you do store information on the cloud make sure to set up proper protocols for data access so that there  are no unauthorized retrievals.
  4. Inadequate infrastructure: It is a challenging task to create the proper system that can use cloud computing. If the systems are not in place, it is no use to spend the time and money on building a cloud based business model.

Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket you should diversify your risks by maintaining backups at several locations. This will help you get back on your feet when an Amazon like disaster blindsides you at three in the morning.




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