What is the Cloud?

With the increasing popularity of cloud hosted content and services, businesses can find themselves divided between on-premise servers or applications, and cloud-hosted services, often split between multiple suppliers. It can be hugely beneficial to move site-located hardware and risk to a secure off-site location reducing or removing the headaches of upgrades, backups or security concerns.

Sounds perfect, right? But what are the pitfalls of cloud-hosted services?

Your house runs on electricity, gas, water and other externally provided utilities and services. Those utility providers are the application and software providers as they were before the cloud - you pay money, they provide a product. But you still have a boiler to consume the gas, a fuse box to manage your electricity, cables, pipes and taps throughout your walls to deliver the gas, water and electricity to where you need it. The boiler, fuse box, pipes, cables and everything within the building are still your responsibility, which can be a pain if the boiler needs replacing or a pipe springs a leak, but it gives you ultimate control over changes. You want to re-program your boiler to provide heat at specific times of the day? You want a pipe running to a new location? More sockets adding? No problem. You don't have to contact the utility provider, and maybe you can even do a lot of the work yourself, or if not, a trusted engineer can do the job.

So, let's say you decided to cloud host your utilities. Your boiler is now gone, so is the fuse box: hosted with the utility provider themselves. Brilliant, right? You no longer need to worry about servicing the boiler, or replacing fuses; you just pay a higher monthly fee and all of that is taken care of. Hot water and safe electricity are provided directly to your door. Although, when the utility company moved your boiler, you were without water for three days, and after it came back on it took several more before the temperature was the way you wanted it. Afterwards, what happens if you need extra sockets or lights? You need to switch off the breaker before you make the change, but the fuse box is no longer at your house. You want to re-program the boiler to come on at different times of the day, but the boiler is gone. For some utility providers this might not be a problem, you make a call to them and they can usually make the change you asked for within 24-48 hours. A bit annoying if you need it now, but maybe not the end of the world.

But what if it's more complicated than that? What if you've got some fancy new home automation tool that allows you to control your house using Amazon's Alexa, or your phone? Now you have something that needs to speak to both the heating, AND the electrical systems. But they are with two different suppliers. So now you need the suppliers to talk to each other to make their remote boiler work together with the remote fuse box and talk nicely with Alexa. You no longer have the control, you have to wait and chase. Maybe one of the utility providers is excellent and attentive, but the other is hard to reach and slow to respond? This might be fine, if you only have to contact them infrequently, but if there’s an emergency it could become problematic very quickly.

This is the cloud.

But something else was cut along with the boiler and the fusebox. The engineers. The trusted professionals that would have helped make everything work properly before you sent your appliances off to the utility provider. The thing is, often those same professionals are familiar with the utility companies, the cloud hosting providers. They understand how they work and how to move things along, even how to get two different providers to work together to deliver the right results. These engineers know how to integrate things between the utility provider and the end user, and even other third party products, like the Alexa, and you still need your pipework and cabling kept in order.

Professional, reliable and trusted engineers help everything work together, no matter where the hardware exists, or who the provider is. They help manage the migration of your services to make sure that loss of service is minimised, or even non-existent during the transfer process. They help knit together all of your services and make them work for you. After all, that's the whole point.

This is Binary Blue.

Published in Binary Blue Articles/