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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Wallen does acknowledge that, like moving from old financial applications to ERP systems, the transition to a hybrid cloud "costs money," but adds, "That's the promise of the cloud."

Words of Advice

Early adopters offer some advice for those contemplating, or in the midst of, a move to the cloud.

When it comes to shopping for a vendor, "dive into [prospective] service providers" and really scrutinize their operations, Pawlak says. Big technology companies are around for a reason -- because they understand how to support an enterprise. A lot of cloud service providers may look like large, robust, supported companies, he says, "but when you dive in, it's five guys in a garage. That's a very dangerous proposition when you're running business-critical function."

While Aetna was doing its cloud due diligence, Pawlak was surprised by how many cloud vendors turned out to be much smaller than their marketing materials made them out to be. "The truth comes out when you begin discussing a contract. Once they look at our liability requirements, they run away," he says. Today, he adds, "we don't even do a proof of concept or pilot until we do a physical visit to the company."

DreamWorks' Wallen says remember that your data is yours, and you're already paying to store it. So avoid supplemental destinations such as Google Box, Dropbox or other public storage platforms. "Look very carefully at where the value lies with a cloud service, and seek providers who have already taken [charge of] the secure management of your data. Then use their functionality on that data. If it can be achieved in a careful, policy-driven way, then it is fit for enterprise use," he says.

A cloud strategy, like any sourcing decision, should always be linked to the business strategy, says Bussmann. Ask questions like "Where can IT generate value and generate total cost of ownership improvements?" he advises. "From there you can go to different cloud implementations and utilization."

Looking ahead, Greene says about half of new deals for software will be SaaS-oriented by 2016. "We'll be getting better at structuring contracts and making better decisions on what we keep on premises versus what we'll move to the cloud," he says. "You won't see activity slow down from a buying perspective, but customers will get more savvy in the way they purchase. They'll stop being so tactical and become more strategic."

Stacy Collett is a Computerworld contributing writer. You can contact her at

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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