They say it’s truly an ill wind that doesn’t blow somebody some good. In the case of Hurricane Sandy, that someone is likely to be a cloud service provider.
With roughly five days of warning, the east coast is preparing for what is being described as “Frankenstorm,” a rare late season hurricane that is expected to collide next week with a cold front loaded with snow over some of the most populous regions of the United States. Of course, where there are people there are lots of businesses, the majority of which probably don’t have much in the way of a functioning backup and recovery plan in place.
With enough warning, however, many of them now have the opportunity to contact a cloud service provider for help. The question is, what level of service are they going to need? Most of them have probably heard of Amazon and Google. But those companies are faceless entities in the cloud. Most small businesses are going to be looking for a little more in the way of hand holding to get them through next week. For example, not many of them really know the difference between backing up data and actually being able to stay online by firing up their entire stack of applications on remote virtual servers in a matter a minutes.
Providing that level of “virtual IT support” is where smaller cloud service providers expect to thrive. Aaron Hollobaugh, the vice president of marketing for Hostway, a provider of cloud computing and hosting services, says it’s those kinds of high-touch services that will ultimately differentiate smaller cloud service providers from the Amazons of the world. While Amazon may be able to offer inexpensive compute capacity, when you add up all the total costs in the cloud, smaller companies can be quite price-competitive with Amazon. Add the service quotient to that equation and it’s not too long before smaller companies begin to appreciate the value provided by a smaller cloud service provider.
Similarly, Jeff Uphues, vice president of cloud server for inbound and outbound telesales at cloud service provider Cbeyond, says the most important thing IT organizations need to think about is vetting which applications can actually run in the cloud. They also need to make sure they don’t find themselves locked into one cloud provider because of all the custom scripts that provider wraps around their application, especially when in most scenarios that application is going to be running across a hybrid cloud computing environment.
The bad news, of course, is that a lot of businesses don’t have much time to figure all this out. The good news is that, for once, there is something they can still actually do before a major storm actually hits.