Cloud Outages

How to recover after a cloud computing misstep

Early adopters share their lessons learned on ramping up, scaling back and avoiding disasters in the cloud.

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Moreover, according to Cisco's Global Cloud Index, worldwide cloud IP traffic will account for more than two-thirds of total data center traffic by 2017.

Of organizations that are committed to the cloud, some say they moved too slowly to get there; others say they moved too quickly. In both cases, there are lessons to be learned from the early adopters. Here's a look at the challenges of ramping up, or scaling back, your cloud computing strategy, as well as the motivations for doing one or the other.

What Early Adopters Have Learned

Organizations that jumped into the cloud in 2010 or earlier have learned valuable lessons, Greene says. On the heels of the economic downturn, companies looked at software as a service tactically. It was easy to understand the costs of SaaS offerings, and from an accounting perspective, paying for hosted systems could be viewed as an operational expense, rather than a big capital expenditure. The concept itself was easy to understand, and companies that went the SaaS route could eliminate the cost of supporting infrastructure, and perhaps even cut the size of staffs that supported software, he explains.

Three or four years later, Greene says, those companies are realizing that "we didn't fire anybody, and we still have to manage the relationship with the vendor and assign resources. We didn't get better at some processes. Or we switched tools, but we didn't get better at the practice that we needed the tool to automate."

What's more, while cloud costs were low initially, many contracts were structured in such a way that costs increased as the years went by. By the fifth or sixth years of their cloud contracts, early adopters were realizing they had spent more money than they would have spent on new on-premises tools, Greene says. "Now some early buyers are saying, 'We might not have thought this thing through completely,'" he adds.

Security issues continue to evolve and are an ongoing concern to cloud users, particularly large, complex global companies that put more of a premium on security than small to midsize businesses do. Many cloud providers claim to have tight security, but security requirements vary widely from company to company. "All that glitters isn't gold," Greene says. "I think there's a false sense of security out there -- because there hasn't been a major breach yet from any of the major providers. [But] we know it's coming."

Wallen is circumspect about his cloud service provider's security. "Actually, the amount of resources we can invest in protecting our assets and messaging communications is far less than Google can," he says, "so to some extent it's unclear on whether it's less secure. It could be more secure."

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