Last week saw both Google and Microsoft suffer outages on their cloud services that impacted millions of users.
Google was down for only an hour, but during this time millions of users of Google Docs could not access their documents.
Microsoft had it worse, with an issue that caused about 3 hours of downtime for their Office 365 users (and Hotmail and other services).
Now, the point of this is not to hammer on these services or get into the technical description of what happened, but to again point out the important point that IF you can not have your documents unavailable at any time, for an hour, or more, then you need to understand that as of now, these services are prone to some downtime, as history has shown, and you need to plan for this, or evaluate your cloud strategy in light of this.
I continue to believe that cloud based service delivery will be part of all of our business (and personal) futures, but not as a replacement for on premise computing, but as an adjunct to it, to enhance productivity and increase access to key data. The idea of putting everything in the cloud sounds cool, but there are simply too many things outside of our control, and let's face it, many of us would have real issues if we could not access a key document when we need it. For some, this could cause serious damage to their ability to function as a business (imagine needing a legal brief before a case and not being able to access it, or not being able to get at a big proposal the morning the final pitch is due).
As always, plan thoroughly and adopt new technologies carefully. One should fully understand the capabilities and risks of any given system before they put their business at its mercy, and cloud document storage and applications are showing that they are still in their infancy in terms of stability.
The pricing can be compelling, as can reduction of onsite hardware costs, but the question is: What is the cost of downtime relative to all of this?
Again, plan thoroughly and move slowly on cloud initiatives. Work with your IT department and ensure you are asking all the right questions.
That way you can ensure you will continue to practice Happy Computing.