Friday, 4 November 2011

Clouds Breaking

We get lots of publicity when Google's Apps or Mail goes down. Recently, Microsoft suffered an embarrassing failure of its Office 365 while it's BPOS systems have had a few issues.

In fact, my Virgin Media home hub 'outs' more regularly than I would like. It seems that Cloud computing is not as reliable as we would like it to be?

Of course, such outages never occur within the cosy firewall of corporate enterprise where utopian networks never run slow, email never goes down and remote users are never locked out or cannot work from other offices without great angst when they are not recognised on the network. Never happens?

Just yesterday, I watched as a young lady flew in from Switzerland to the UK and tried to get on her corporate network. Despite the intervention of the European Helpdesk that conveniently sat a few metres away it took her all morning just to get her mails. As a 'guest' on the network and working in the Cloud, I never missed a beat. 

Such inexplicable occurrences happen all too regularly in the real world. Applications go down or routers get into a loop, networks get overloaded, remote users are left out in the cold - whatever. To my mind, these outages happen at least as frequently as Cloud outages.

The reality is that if a Cloud outage occurs, more people will get affected.

The alternative could be Private or Hybrid Cloud to combine the advantages of behind the firewall security but leveraging the flexibility and cost savings in the Cloud. Such set ups are the best of both worlds.

By provisioning infrastructure in the Cloud and behind the security of your own network, Private Clouds are the ideal way to leverage virtualised resources and consolidate expensive kit like servers and storage. It also means that you can help reduce power consumption as such co-hosting centres are purpose made - they have fail over power supplies in case of disaster, you can build in redundancy for lower cost, save costs on kitting out purpose made datacenter environments, save on costly office space, get better deals on high maintenance cover and spread the cost of IT over time rather than take big capital hits.

Choosing levels of service cover is important too but you leverage scale in these environments, so the cost of cover for outages is cheaper. It also means that if you want to conserve all your applications in one place safely and not be subject to general application outages, the Private Cloud alternative is a good one even if you don't get some of the benefits of scale that real Cloud applications can bring.

And here's a featured application for you. Take a look at SugarSync. Now I use Dropbox extensively work projects and it's great. I tried backing up everything to it but I have the nagging concern of availability at crucial times. What if I could synchronise all my files, across all my devices at the same time so that any change on any of them is automatically securely backed up in the Cloud and synchronised on the local drives of all my devices?

Enter Sugar Sync. Easy to use and set up, 5Gb for free with an offer on 60Gb at $49.99 for a year and even business plans for SMB requirements. It's really great.

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