With interest in cloud computing up in the stratosphere, Frank Ohlhorst from sister site CTO Edge last week offered some timely suggestions on how an organization on the brink of making the leap might want to go about assessing cloud computing providers. It was an insightful piece, and Ohlhorst went on to specifically address SLAs and performance monitoring.
What I really liked though, was the following piece of advice:
Make no mistake, moving to the cloud is a business decision, not a technology decision, and as such should be judged on the same merits used for any new business process. Ultimately, the final decision will be based on the metrics of return on investment, performance, sustainability and suitability to task.
Far too often, SMBs buy into hype or the technology flavor of the month being promoted by vendors whose main agenda, not surprisingly, is to generate more sales from you. It is illogical and can be downright detrimental to SMBs however, for them to swap in new technologies without first properly considering whether it is a sound decision from a non-technological perspective.
I've written about a number of cloud-based services over the past several weeks, and I thought I will play devil's advocate today and highlight one of them, and why it might not be suitable for some SMBs.
If you recall, I wrote about how I subscribe to a cloud-based backup service called SugarSync in an earlier blog titled "How I Back Up My Computer." Essentially, a desktop client is first installed on a target workstation, which transparently synchronizes all my documents to the cloud-based servers run by the service. I love the service because it gives me near-real-time protection against hard-disk crashes, and because it also syncs my files across a few other computers, which allows me to switch computers with impunity.
For those who have yet to give the service a spin, you will notice that while SugarSync is perfectly suited for individuals or for small businesses with a limited number of computers, the service actually falls short when more users are added to the mix. The reason is simple: There is no administrative console for any form of centralized management at all.
So while the technology works perfectly, I would probably not recommend SugarSync as a solution for a small and medium business with say, 500 workstations. From that perspective, there are inadequate administrative oversight and management controls that can be enforced. As an example, there is nothing to stop users from configuring replication of sensitive documents to unsecured computers or mobile devices, or wasting resources by trying to back up their entire collection of uncompressed songs.
In all fairness SugarSync told me that the company has been hard at work to create "a special offering for businesses." I don't have details at this point, though I hope it addresses some of the concerns highlighted above.
Whatever the case, I would advise against jumping into the clouds for the sake of it. Careful evaluation of the solution by considering the "return on investment, performance, sustainability and suitability to task" is a must.