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Lessons learned from a cloud evaporation

Steve Duplessie | Oct. 10, 2013
Cloud provider Nirvanix went belly up. Even if you weren't one of its clients, you can learn things from that mess.

Lesson 3: The cloud isn't as cheap as you thought
It's stunningly cheap to put stuff into the cloud. But if you use a cloud vendor, it becomes enormously expensive very quickly. And by the time you figure that out, you realize how hard it is to get stuff out. That's what cloud vendors bet on.

It's amazingly easy to use S3 or AWS — and they are absolutely brilliant services — but if you don't watch what you are doing, you'll end up paying through the nose. The key is to leverage cloud IaaS as transient services, because then it really is cheap. You rent what you need while you need it, then you stop paying for it. It's when you decide that the cloud is going to replace your PMO (present mode of operation) that it get's expensive and risky.

People put stuff on Nirvanix to replace their existing archive methodologies. No problem if it's not the only place the data lives — and if you don't need it back in a hurry. Big problem if it is the only place the data lives. Big, expensive, ugly problem.

Lesson 4: It's not the cloud's fault, it's yours
We tend to be lemmings in the IT world. Lines of business have been running around us and setting up their own services on Amazon, etc., without even telling us. Because we in IT are too slow and too expensive. So we rush in. We try to embrace ITaaS concepts in order to keep our relevance (and hence, our jobs). And we take shortcuts too. Then, when something nasty hits the fan, it ends up blowing all over us, regardless of whose brilliant idea it was in the first place.

The cloud is not nirvana, any more than Nirvanix was. It's just another thing. A thing we have to understand inside and out: what it can do, and what it can't; what it's good for, and what it isn't. We need to stop treating this year's model (yes, this is an Elvis Costello reference) like it's the only way to go. Don't jump in with both feet. Stick your toe in the water first. Make sure you understand where the alligators are before you go swimming.

The cloud is a consumption model more than a set of technologies. Understanding why and when you would like to utilize this consumption model is a good idea — to which I suggest you ask one simple question of yourself: What problem am I trying to solve?

If you can be honest with yourself and divest yourself from the hype of the gold rush, the more you ask yourself "what" and "why" questions, the better off you'll be. Once you are clear on what you are trying to accomplish and why you need to accomplish it, you can then model out the risk/reward of all of your options — including the cloud.


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