Many firms are looking to the Cloud as a savior. From case data storage to email, and from document management systems to backup solutions, practically all firm functions can be hosted in the Cloud. Perhaps the only thing that can’t be is physical printing. Who said print is dead?
The Cloud offers lots of advantages, some of which include:
- Higher availability and redundancy
- Less local footprint, resulting in less power and cooling requirements in your datacenter
- Even playing field for small firms
While all of these are always positives, there are a few unknowns that may actually be more of a disadvantage. These tend to be more of an issue for SAAS (Software as a Service) hosted in the Cloud:
- Automatic Upgrades
- More rigid maintenance windows
- Smart-hands or Support response time
There is less control in these environments. If you are using a hosted email anti-spam service, they will tell you when their services will be down, and you will have little choice in the matter. It all depends on how you look at it, and when you look at it. The lack of technical control or direct responsibility for uptime sounds great when your IT staff can focus on the more day-to-day support of the staff. But when you lack control, and the Cloud provider has an outage, you are… stuck.
In the last week, Microsoft had two separate service issues in their Office365 solution. The first involved some prolonged mail flow delays. The second resulted in some North and South American customers (including several of ours) being unable to access their email. According to a Microsoft email that was subsequently delivered to customers:
“This service incident resulted from a combination of issues related to maintenance, network element failures, and increased load on the service. These three issues in combination caused customer access to email services to be degraded for an extended period of time.”
It looks as if Office365 may have grown a bit faster than Microsoft was expecting. As a result of the outage, Microsoft reports:
“Significant capacity increases are already underway and we are also adding automated handling on these type of failures to speed recovery time. Across the organization, we are executing a full review of our processes to proactively identify further actions needed to avoid these situations.”
Of course, that is, until the next outage occurs. As we wrote about the Amazon Web Services outage only a few months ago in a post titled In the Storm Clouds
, it looks like the decision to move the Cloud will remain not so straight-forward.