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Building The Fact Of Network Cloud Computing

By Mike Kavis

I have found that with cloud computing there seems to be a ton of "expert" advice but it is not coming from people who are actually building solutions in the cloud.  Many giving "expert" advice are seasoned veterans and talented people, but they are simply stating opinions not backed by any facts.  Most have simply read about the cloudís pros and cons, formed their own opinions, and now claim their opinions as facts.  Where are all the architects and engineers that have actually designed and implemented real solutions in the cloud?  Shouldnít we be listening to their opinions (and I am not talking about the vendorsí engineers)?

Funny Pictures

So here are some of the generic statements (aka "facts") that I see daily:

• Cloud is not secure
• Application  XYZ failed therefore the cloud is a failure
• You are crazy if you put mission critical applications in the cloud

I could go on and on but you get the point.  So letís discuss these "facts" one at a time.

Cloud is not secure

This one drives me nuts!  I heard a well respected industry analyst at a well respected conference declare "I just donít understand how you can put customer data in the cloud.  When you buy Amazon, you donít buy security".  I raised my hand and asked, "When you buy a rack of servers from IBM, are you buying security?".  The point is, you donít buy security, you architect for it.  Whether you are using a SaaS, IaaS, or PaaS provider, you must understand what security features are addressed, what isnít, and what the risks are.  Then you must design to mitigate those risks.  It is not different than what you should be doing on-premise.  Understand your requirements, and build (or buy) the appropriate solution.  So to sum it up, the cloud by itself is often not secure enough.  You may outsource your infrastructure but donít outsource your brain.  There are still things you must do to secure your systems and services in the cloud.

Application XYZ failed therefore the cloud is a failure

Whether it is GMail, Tmobile losing Sidekick data, Ma.gnolia database crashes, or Coghead going out of business, any failure of an off-premise solution seems to feed the myth cloud computing is too risky.  However, we continue to fail miserably each day with our on-premise solutions but we can keep it from the press because it is behind our firewall!  In each one of the above mentioned failures, the issue lies with operational issues on the side of the provider and not issues with the cloud infrastructure itself.  I would argue that GMail, which is free, is at least as reliable than most corporate Microsoft Exchange implementations (at least for the companies that I have worked for in the past).  Also, if you are using SaaS solutions, you should have a mitigation strategy in place for lost data.  Outsource the business processes but not your brain!  You still need business continuity, disaster recovery, record retention policies, etc.  And when did on-premise become so perfect? How many companies do you know keep the lights on by having employees run around with duck tape and bailing wire plugging up the holes in the bottom of the boat.  Letís face it, most failures are due to issues in architecture, design flaws, missed requirements, human error, weak controls, or poor implementations.

Continue reading this article.

About the Author:
Mike Kavis is a veteran Chief Architect with over 23 years of IT experience including distributed computing, SOA, BPM, data warehouse, business intelligence, and enterprise architecture. Read Mike's blog at Enterprise Initiatives.
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