Cloud Computing: Early Adopters Share Five Key Lessons

By Robert Lemos, CIO |  On-demand Software

For sales forecasting and analytics firm Right90, the cost savings of moving its infrastructure to the cloud was too advantageous to ignore. Right90 didn't start its business using third-party infrastructure, but the cost savings and flexibility of cloud services beckoned. Last year, the company moved out of its data centers in Calgary, Ontario and San Francisco, California and adopted Amazon EC2 with backup to servers located at the firm's own offices. The lack of servers to manage has freed up Right90's IT management team, says Arthur Wong, the firm's CEO.

"The IT operations guys are still doing, what I would call, more strategic things in the organization, rather than managing data centers and servers," he says.

2. Downtime is low

One concern in moving to the cloud is that the providers--such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Rackspace--become targets for attacks that could cause significant downtime. Yet, so far, Immunet has had no problems with Amazon's service, Friedrichs says. "It is fair to say that since we launched, we have had zero downtime," he says.

Moreover, the ability to spin up a new server instance in seconds gives customers redundancy that they would not have when managing their own data center, Friedrichs argues.

"In a physical datacenter, your servers would be safe but you would not have clustering and failover to the same extent you have with cloud," he says. "You would have to plan in advance and have the redundant servers bought and provisioned."

3. Security is still your headache

Many companies believe that using a third party's datacenter to host your servers means that security will be managed as well.

Not true, Friedrichs says.

"You do need security knowledge and security background, because you own these systems," Friedrichs says. "There is no difference between securing these in Amazon's cloud and securing them in your own datacenter."

Not only do companies have to worry about the security of their virtual systems in the cloud, they have to--in many cases--prove what measures they are taking. File transfer service YouSendIt decided to create and manage its own datacenters in 2004, before cloud services came into vogue. But, even today with 12 million users, the company will not move its infrastructure into someone else's cloud because, among other reasons, security and compliance are still outstanding issues, says Ranjith Kumaran, founder and CTO.

Data security regulations, for example, are not handled well today, he says.

"Our European customers want to make sure that their data stays in Europe," says Kumaran. "Can Amazon guarantee that? That's never been answered."

4. Your ability to use cloud depends on your customers


Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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