Are Those Fluffy Clouds Or Storm Clouds On Your Horizon?

Everyone is talking about the cloud, from the boardroom to the war room, and everywhere in between. Heck, your parents probably asked you about the cloud the last time you paid them a visit. It’s the in thing right now, and everyone wants to get on board. Cloud computing has the potential to be the biggest game changer to IT since the Internet, but before you get carried away and run speed ahead to the cloud let’s just make sure all that cloud cover isn’t obscuring your vision.

You are putting someone else in charge

This is the hardest thing for most IT professionals to accept. When you move services to the cloud, you are no longer directly in control. It’s a major shift in realities that most IT folks have trouble adapting to; you can’t just log on to the box and make the needed change, or bounce the server to clear it out. Even if something is broken you still have to go through change control, and you will be opening tickets for everything. It’s going to be a stressful time at first, as you and your teammates become accustomed to the new reality.

It’s not all about you

With the exception of the private cloud, you are but one of many customers using the services of your cloud provider. And that means, on at least some level, you must share everything with others, whether you know them or not. I don’t mean you are sharing your data, but you are sharing the IT resources of your provider.

The bandwidth, capacity, IT staff, sales staff, customer service staff and more are shared across all the other customers. Cloud computing in this case is a lot like other utilities. You are all in it together, and if you alone have a problem, you can’t expect someone is going to pay attention to you very quickly, but if everyone is having a problem, you cannot expect to be fixed first.

You can have any colour you want, as long as it’s black

Cloud services typically use the latest and greatest versions of whatever software goes into offering the service. That’s one of the big appeals; you stay evergreen. However, just because they are running on the 2012 version of X, don’t expect that you will get every little feature and customisation that X version 2012 offers if you install it on-premise; cloud service providers tend to offer the vanilla, cookie cutter version and only enable the most popular features. If you want obscure feature 57, make sure that the cloud service offers that before you sign up.

You won’t get rid of all your servers, or all your IT staff

This last one is something you may need to share with the president, the C-level leadership, or even your director. Very few cloud services can function completely without some on premise resources, many services will not be suitable for everyone to move to the cloud, and your IT team is still required to manage those services, and the relationships with the vendors. Even when you move a service to the cloud, it still has to be managed by you.

You are trading a physical collection of depreciable assets that require round the clock care for a recurring monthly expense that requires daily monitoring. You won’t need that third shift datacenter technician, but you will still need IT.

You may think I am a cloud hater, and don’t want to have anything to do with it. You couldn’t be further from the truth there. I love the cloud, and have been a direct customer, or the consultant who assisted my customers with moving to cloud services since before it was called the cloud, you know, in the good old days of the late 2000’s. But I’ve seen enough smiles turn to frowns when reality struck, and when customers realised that it’s not like the old days, so I wanted to make sure that I give you a healthy dose of reality.

Casper Manes writes on behalf of IT Channel Insight, a site for MSPs and channel partners where you can find articles related to managed it services. Casper currently works as a Senior Messaging Consultant for one of the premier consulting firms in the world, he cuts his teeth on Exchange 5.0, and has worked with every version of Microsoft’s awesome e-mail packages since then, as well as MHS, Sendmail, and MailEnable systems. He’s written dozens of articles on behalf of his past employers, their partners, and others.