One of These Clouds is Not Like the Other
With mega-hype – such as the incessant promotion of ‘the cloud’ in IT – inevitably comes a mega-backlash. Witness today’s public relations disaster, where T-Mobile USA has suspended sales of the Sidekick and offered those customers the option of ditching their contracts without penalty because of a ‘cloud failure’ – the servers lost all the data (eg personal contacts) stored on the Sidekick devices with apparently no hope of ever getting it back.
This ‘cloud failure’ has of course led to some nasty headlines from IT writers, like ‘When the Cloud Fails’ (GigaOM) and ‘Cloud Goes Boom’ (InformationWeek). But there’s the problem: there are so many different clouds. Some of them may well be shoddy and some are highly secure and reliable – but they all get lumped under this same ‘cloud’ umbrella.
It is a bit like saying that ‘hobbies are dangerous’ – even though some hobbies are not dangerous at all (playing bridge) but some are very risky (free-climbing the North Face of the Eiger).
Over time, as more – in fact, most – businesses come to rely on ‘cloud’ services, such as hosted Exchange, they will need to discern one cloud from another. Is it a nice, shiny cloud with multiple tier-4 datacenters and multi-site backup, like Intermedia, or is it a drizzly, wispy cloud with questionable reliability and backup? Until that time, we software-as-a-service businesses will need to keep explaining that not all clouds are the same.