Friday, December 31, 2010

On Cloud Computing

From an e-mail to friends...

Cloud computing is a strategy to outsource complexity and risk. Most SMBs can’t stand that their Windows systems constantly need maintenance, updates and repair. A ‘cloud’ service is really just a way to fix the cost and get out of the PC Problem Pool.

Until you get a generation of users that are willing to STOP using Word, Excel & Quickbooks you won’t have cloud services replace local servers. Likewise: Autocad, Photoshop and a myriad other apps that put a strain on even CAT6 infrastructure. Microsoft wants to hurry that along (Office365 – not to be confused with Office360) but Google is already there. Trouble is that very few of my customers know what the cloud is or why they’d want one ;)

If you don’t have a local server (like ours: you’re going to be sucking data through a straw until everyone gets fiber to their dmarc from their ISP. And our experience is that customers are already pushing back on $100+/mo broadband. They want to BROWSE, BACKUP TO and GET THEIR EMAIL from the web but not much else. A few have tried VPNs to virtual servers and they think it sucks. We get calls all the time from customers that simply need to reboot their routers. We have 100+ FileSafes in the field that check in every three minutes. There’s always a few that stop checking in and it’s almost always because of Internet issues. And sometimes our monitoring page lights up like NORAD because there has been a system wide Internet failure. This ain’t like the old phone system with five nines uptime.

If you want to access files remotely you use LogMeIn or, better yet, RDP – it’s free and fast right back to your desktop.

I agree that, Sharepoint and some other hosted apps – in particular Hosted Exchange with smartphone integration – are MUST HAVEs for many small businesses, but our customers are much more comfortable knowing their data, docs, pics and all the important stuff they ‘own’ is inside their four walls. Don’t get me started on data privacy concerns, cloud vendor security/availability (DDOS risks,) and lock-in.

And just wait until ISPs start putting tolls on bandwidth! This ‘all you can eat’ free lunch we’ve been eating is going to end someday. That will certainly put some hail in those clouds.

Like many things, the story is more complicated than it first appears – and hybrid solutions are still the right answer.