Cloud Clash: Is the Cloud Reliable Enough to Store Your Data?

Two IT experts face off about the pros and cons of cloud computing and tell you what you need to know before signing up

Kevin Michael

Overview
The stark reality of cloud computing is that it is far from perfect and skeptics often cite reliability, security and privacy as some of their biggest concerns. Many of these challenges are already being addressed by cloud services providers, and as cloud technologies continue to be more widely adopted, they will inevitably evolve into being more usable, reliable and secure.

Reliability
Cloud services aim to deliver 99.95% or higher availability. This translates to less than 5 hours a year of downtime. You would be hard pressed to deliver the same reliability with your own systems and staff. While outages do occur, it is important to factor redundancy and contingency plans into the mix where possible.

Security
Security is certainly not a concern that is exclusive to the cloud, as practically any Internet connected system is fair game for a security breach. The idea of having your systems in a secure data center and under the watchful eye of dedicated IT security experts is certainly one advantage of being in the cloud.

Privacy
Admittedly, the implications of cloud services on privacy can be a daunting task. If your organization needs complete control of its data or has very specific regulatory requirements, opting to create a private cloud may be a better option. You may also wish to consider choosing a cloud services provider whose terms of service can be adapted to your needs.

On-Demand Scalability
Getting more capacity in the cloud is as easy as flipping a switch. You won’t have to worry about the lead time to purchase a new server or install more storage because you can ramp up or downsize as needed to meet demand.

Kevin Michael is co-founder of Invizio, a managed IT services provider, specializing in the design, support and management of IT infrastructure for small businesses located in the Miami area. Michael is a former project manager for Citigroup and has a degree in IT and software engineering from the University of Miami.

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  • Akweli Parker

    Both gentlemen make very valid points. I found myself particularly in agreement with Mr. Howze’s observation that cloud-delivered applications look suspiciously like the old “utility” model — in which the service provider basically holds you hostage for vital services. I also bristle a bit at the notion that with cloud services, I’m becoming someone’s revenue stream instead of being able to pay once for some software and be done.

    Yet for all its shortcomings, I and the people I know find the cloud becoming more and more indispensable to our business and personal lives. As with anything, it’s do your research, then *caveat emptor* when deciding if a cloud-based service will offer the reliability, security, and usefulness you need.

    Akweli Parker
    http://www.digitaldeltamedia.com