This week it appears that Microsoft screwed the pooch and lost everyone’s data that was using Sidekick on T-Mobile. Microsoft should have known better and had proper backups and Hitachi (who was doing an upgrade for them) didn’t check either. Expect some major finger pointing (and lawsuits) going on in the upcoming weeks. Regardless, there are multiple layers of failure and plenty of blame to go around.
It’s why I chuckle when people talk about ‘cloud computing’ being the wave of the future. I have no doubt that we’ll see more cloud computing but there are just certain things that don’t belong in the ‘cloud’ and should be taken care of by your own IT department.
I did a fair amount of work a few years ago on a commercial accounting application and every now and then the boss would get all excited about cloud computing and he’d kick the tires and make some noise about moving the entire operation towards it. At first blush it makes a LOT of sense to have the software and data reside elsewhere because it puts the burden on the host company to keep the software up to date, upgrade the hardware on a regular basis, have regular on-site and off-site backups and have decent security. And then you realize that its strength is also a weakness as the Microsoft case has shown. You are depending TOTALLY on someone else doing the right thing.
The other reason is the data. For many companies their data IS their business. It’s their competitive advantage. You really trust all the pipes between your office and the cloud computing servers? Sounds paranoid but this is your sensitive data you’re talking about, right? How many stories have been published about SSN and credit card numbers being compromised (at the minimum) and outright stolen (at the worst) in the past couple of years?
If you’re in a larger metropolitan area you probably have decent internet access, with decent speeds, that never goes down. There are a lot of places even in the United States where this is simply not true. I’ve always enjoyed pulling the network cable from a computer when someone is on their high horse about cloud computing. Tough to get work done when you can’t load the software or the data. At least with the software and data on my computer and local network I can still get work done. My job requires internet access and I can tell you that when my internet goes down I’m not very productive (and keep in mind that I’m in a top 40 metropolitan area with all underground utilities!). I’ve also had web servers get attacked and be so unresponsive that they might has well have been shut down.
In the long run, can you go to your boss and guarantee (because it might mean the difference of having a job or not, after all) that the data is 100% secure, backed up and available 24/7? Food for thought, no?