True Cloud Power

True Cloud Power

True cloud power! Why does it matter?
The problem with people in marketing is they love catch phrases. In the IT industry they take sexy tech jargon and turn it into an idea that they can sell to the common man. Unfortunately, over time, the true meaning of that jargon tends to get diluted until it barely means what it used to. Cloud technology is one such piece of jargon.

The Cloud vs. a Web Server

In layman's terms it's the difference between a single cell in your body, or a collection of all your cells working as a joint organism. It doesn't take a genius to understand which of those two analogies is the most robust and adaptable solution.

Software as a service (SaaS) delivered via a single web server shares a great deal of the end user functions that a cloud array provides. Its limitation is that in most instances, unless your server is laden with optional 'hot swap' hardware capacity, if any hardware component in your server fails - you are suddenly offline until the issue can be identified, the component ordered and the server repaired. Worse, unless you have an effective back up strategy in place - something rarely offered as standard by software host providers, you've potentially lost some or all of your data.

A cloud array is a bank of servers working together as one unit with data written across the array.

If a hardware fault occurs in one machine, the cloud continues.
If a server dies, the cloud continues.
If a dozen servers die, depending on the size of the cloud, the cloud continues and your data remains safe.

Clouds are often more complicated to implement and maintain, requiring more skilled people to manage it, making it more expensive than standard web hosting options to run and therefore many software providers choose single servers so they can offer cheaper more competitive pricing, which is understandable. This scenario however raises some obvious questions for you to consider:

  • How much is your data worth?
  • Would partial data loss be acceptable?
  • How much impact would total data loss have?
  • If your software provider went offline for an hour, or a day, or a week - how badly would your business be affected?

In the face of this uncertainty many institutions choose to host software themselves, with the idea of the physical presence of their hardware giving them some feeling of security. But few RTOs have the capacity of a proper environment controlled hosting facility.

Cloud Protection

Ask yourself - what does your organisation have in place to protect your data and continuity of service from:

  • Overheating
  • Flood
  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Electrical surges
  • Internet failure
  • Network failure
  • Power failure
  • Hardware failure
  • Data corruption
  • Viruses
  • Hackers
  • Disgruntled employees

Someone may not want to steal your data, but thieves may be interested in walking out the doors with your PCs. Similarly acts of god are also difficult to predict.

How reasonable would the following scenario be, when presented to an auditor as a risk management strategy for a flood – “We’ll just move all our computer equipment to a higher shelf”? It happens to be a true story about an RTO in northern Queensland during the Mackay floods. And while their equipment may have survived to function another day, would you implement their strategy for your equipment and data?