In a WSJ blog earlier this month, Clint Boulton discussed a recent outage at a well-known cloud/Software as a Service provider. One quote in particular from the article resonated with me as to how I see people adopt technology. “As CIOs, we want a throat to choke,” said James Szmak, CIO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Fortunately, the JDRF was not affected by the recent outage.
Cloud computing is no different. From the IT administrator up to the CIO, a common decision factor is based on how much control they are willing to give up and how much risk to accept. I don’t want to understate the issues related to selecting a cloud provider, suffice to say, there are many, many considerations. But as the article covers, CIOs tend to feel more in control over equipment they manage themselves, even if it takes longer for them to fix.
Network and service outages are a fact of life; however, cloud computing providers with high-profile clients have the disadvantage that any significant outage is going to make it into the news. Yet all IT leaders know they will experience unplanned downtime. To drive down unplanned downtime to zero requires significant investment and real time visibility to ensure that everything is working. Deploying cloud services means you can no longer simply walk down to your own data center and sit with the team debugging the issues.
Ultimately, when problems arise and users are adversely affected, it’s the CIO’s throat that gets choked. Over time, enterprise-level deployments might end up with an array of cloud providers to handle all of its IT needs. Weather happens. Machines break. So whether they leverage alerts, monitoring portals, or just provide good ol’ customer service, one of the best ways to judge their capability is by how much they make you believe there is one throat to choke when problems arise.