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Cloud myth #1: no-one puts critical data in the Cloud

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Introduction:
Whenever a new disruptive technology comes to market, commentators start with predictions about how customers will react. Surveys are undertaken, opinions are canvassed and we hurriedly start making our top ten lists. The growth of cloud has been no different. We’ve heard all the predictions – from ‘the cloud is too much of a security risk’; or ‘it will only work for email systems’; to ‘only consumers will use it’. So we decided to debunk the myths – the ones that we see being disproved by our cloud customers every single day.

Cloud myth number 1: No-one puts mission critical data in the cloud

The belief that companies are not prepared to put their business critical data in the cloud simply isn’t true – or it isn’t in our experience. In fact, we estimate that nearly 90% of the traffic running on our private cloud service is mission critical applications. Let’s be clear however, that when we talk about cloud in this context, we’re referring to private not public cloud services for reasons that will soon become obvious.

So how did customers go from distrusting the cloud to putting its vital business data on someone else’s network? There are a number of reasons, but the most obvious is experience.

CIOs and IT departments spend their time creating, developing, running and maintaining an environment that supports their business. Their job is to make sure that the technology makes them more competitive, more agile and better able to meet market challenges. A cloud provider’s business, on the other hand, is the cloud. That’s it. That’s what they do, day in, day out. They manage, patch, fix, support, migrate, watch, develop, route and analyse data, applications, infrastructures and environments every minute of every day. That makes them experts in managing and supporting data in the cloud – more so than the companies it belongs to.

Not so public cloud providers. Typically their clouds have developed as a bi-product of their principal business. The likes of Google and Amazon developed cloud services because they had vast amounts of excess data centre capacity and a huge customer base need. Don’t get me wrong, the service they offer is ideal for consumers and some companies but it doesn’t make them experts in managing mission critical data in a cloud environment.

The second compelling reason is security. Despite what some commentators have us believe, most private cloud providers operate infrastructures that are safer than individual companies can build themselves. It has to be the safest environment available or no-one would buy the service in the first place.  

And then there’s the access to redundancy and disaster recovery. In a cloud environment, customers may have the option to simply re-route mission critical data and applications if the worst happens. Often the options open to customers in the cloud are far superior (and more cost-effective) than what they could build themselves.

Before you go rushing to move your mission critical data into the cloud however, there are of course reasons to exercise caution. Make sure that your cloud service provider operates it’s own infrastructure. There’s no point having a relationship with one provider when it’s unable to guarantee its service because it dependent on the service delivery of another.

Talking of guarantees, make sure that your SLAs reflect the value that you place upon your data. If it is mission critical – ensure that you protect it.

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