Cloud Computing – Breaking Up is Hard to do!

posted on Jun 29, 2011 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA

The thought of going to the Cloud for many is like the beginning of a beautiful relationship; you’re in love, that person is the coolest person ever, and it’s all butterflies and moon beams; everything seems to better and they have so much to offer, but no one talks about what happens when it ends — I mean it can’t end, this is so perfect, right?

Well, it may or may not be; businesses grow and change, just like people do. If you’re thinking about going to the Cloud, or using Hosted Services, you need to ask up-front:  “If we leave you, how do you handle that process?” and “Are you really hosting our business in a way that makes migrations or exiting seamless?”

Chances are you’ll get a boiler-plate answer that does not provide exact details and a “Don’t’ worry about it” attitude.  You do need to worry about it!

Many companies put you in Hosted Environments with hundreds of other users that you can’t see, or in Virtual Machines, and when it comes to migrating to a better server, upgrade, or leaving because you are not happy (imagine that?) seamless migration or exit may not be possible, becoming a real headache.

An example:  A common migration process would be to install a new server on the same network as your existing server, install the upgraded operating system and email server. This would allow a seamless transfer to the new server without business interruption.  If you want to leave your Hosting Company for whatever reason, they’re not going to let you install a server on their network to migrate. Instead, they’ll give you all of the emails in hard drive or disk and tell you to import them. This means there will be a period of time where all of your users will not have all of their email and possibly suffer some loss or corruption.

Another example: We configured a business for Google Apps and migrated all of their existing Exchange email to Google. It was seamless and Google Apps works very well. After some time it was decided that Google Apps did not have all of the features they required and the decision was made to migrate back to Exchange. That was easily done. However, all of the auto-fill email addresses (you know the ones that fill automatically as you type) were altered by Google and no longer worked with Exchange – It seems trivial, until the CEO complains that they have to retype every email address and “You know how long that takes, and I don’t need all of those email addresses!”  Imagine 50 employees complaining about this at the same time.

I could go on with other examples, but the point is; do your home work and don’t trust the Hosting Company to give you a complete picture.

Consult with an IT Professional that can ask the questions of your potential Hosting Company.

If you’re thinking about Hosted Solution and you need help, call us. We don’t offer Hosting and there are many variables to consider before you decide. We’ll give you our honest assessment which may save you many headaches when that time comes to “break-up.”

Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA
Big Village IT, Austin Texas