Struggles With The Cloud

A few years back we outsourced our server backups to a vendor’s private cloud. It made sense at the time and was cost efficient based on our current data growth. As time marched forward and business grew, so did our data growth. Adding more and more growth capacity to the cloud began to cost us more than if we were to perform our own backup internally via old fashion tape. Yes, I know what you are thinking; tape is archaic and a dying technology. Well it still works as expected in conjunction with our SAN/DR and we have full control.

As we began the process to move away from our cloud solution, we discovered we had a problem. The years of data that were backed up were irretrievable. The amount of data could not be downloaded over the internet without the connection failing and even if we were able to download we estimated two weeks of 24×7 downloads to try and retrieve our data. And the data will be in a jumble without rhyme or reason. What a dilemma! The vendor proved no help. As far as they were concerned if we wanted to move, it was up to us to get our data out. In essence our data was being held hostage.

Our plan (not ideal) was to keep our data in the cloud for the foreseeable future; no additional capacity will be purchased. As equipment begin to be decommissioned, the cloud backups will be deleted in accordance with our tape backup/data retention policies.  This will help us not have to download years and years of data.

Be cautious moving things into a cloud solution. Make sure you understand the risks involved not only in the short-term but also the long very long-term.

Issues Facing CIOs Today

What issues are you addressing today in your organization? Is it a blend of business, strategic, leadership, and technology?

Here is my list (in no particular order) of issues facing CIOs today:

  1. Securing of sensitive data
  2. Compliance and information risk management
  3. Increasing regulatory oversight
  4. Willingness to share information and adopt best practices across the organization locally and globally
  5. Enterprise resilience to guard against disruptions
  6. Fully Integrating of applications and software across the enterprise while lessening the overall maintenance and upkeep
  7. Cost-effective IT operations and compelling ROIs for tech investments
  8. Effective governance practice
  9. IT/Business alignment
  10. Green Computing
  11. Budget reductions
  12. Off-shoring/on-shoring/re-shoring
  13. Cloud Computing
  14. Social Media
  15. Staff hiring and retention

Being aware of challenges and issues is important for any successful CIO’s management strategy. Any list of issues or top priorities facing CIOs is open to debate. However, having the debate is important because it brings the issues out into the open. What’s most important is that CIOs do not fall into a reactionary mode of operation and management. Doing so is easy especially during times of economic distress, it is easy to react to issues rather than to plan and execute.

What issues are your facing today? Let us know and continue the debate?

Further Reading:

Global CIO: The Top 10 CIO Issues For 2009 by Bob Evans

Top Issues for CIO’s by Eric D. Brown

The Top Business Issues facing CIOs / IT Directors by Peter Thomas

Clouds on the Horizon

CloudCloud computing is here. Companies like Amazon, AT&T and Google are knee deep in it.

Cloud computing has these typical characteristics:

  • Services can be quickly deployed
  • Very little start up costs
  • Usage based model
  • Services can be scaled accordingly
  • Service can be customized

When you engage in cloud services, you are paying for three service levels:

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a service (PaaS)
  • Software as a service (SaaS)

Like any new product to market, standards are still being developed. You should be aware of the following when discussing with vendors:

  • Service levels – Be clear about your SLAs, response times, data protection, and recovery times.
  • Privacy – Hosting your data with an outside vendor is problematic. If you are concerned about this then you should not engage in cloud services..
  • Compliance – Review your regulations and make sure you are in compliance. Engage your auditors if you are not 100% sure.
  • Data ownership – Who owns the data once in the cloud? Get your legal department involved.
  • Data mobility – Can you share data among different providers? How do you get your data back? What happens when the contract is terminated?

If your firm is exploring cloud computing you should weigh the risks against the rewards both in the short term and long term. Get your business, legal, and audit teams involved early on to help make decisions and address issues. Good luck…

Into The Cloud – An Executive Summary

CloudCloud computing is the latest buzzword bandied about the web these days and often attributed to different things. The simplest answer is this technology uses scalable and virtualized resources over the Internet. The functions and usability is generated from within the Internet or “cloud” (which is the symbol used to represent the Internet on network diagrams).

Applications like SAP and Oracle have always been too expensive and complicated to maintain. They require datacenter space, power, cooling, bandwidth, networks, massive amounts of storage, and a team of professionals to install, configure, and run them. All of which costs money.

Cloud computing allows your business to run your applications in a shared data center. This costs less because you do not need to pay for the all the people, products, and facilities to run them. In addition, applications are more scalable, more secure, and more reliable. When you run applications in a cloud, you do not buy anything. It is rolled up into a predictable monthly subscription. You pay for what you use. 

There are positives and negatives to cloud computing. All of which will need to be weighed before an organization engages in cloud computing. I will discuss some of these points in future postings.