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Cross-Ocean Clouds Gain Despite Millisecond Delays

Patrick Thibodeau | March 4, 2011
Concerns about latency and questions about security and regulatory issues aren't stopping CIOs from moving key systems to the cloud, even if it means using apps hosted in data centers on the other side of the globe.

For AIG Edison, the decision to work with a cloud provider in another country raised security concerns that also had to be addressed.

"Just having the data residing outside of Japan was hard for some people to get over," said Jason Park, general manager of Appirio's Japan operations.

But executives' concerns were mitigated by explanations of the physical and logical security Salesforce had in place. They found that Salesforce "was probably better both from a reliability and uptime perspective and provided more robust security as well," Park said.

AIG Edison was acquired last month by Prudential Financial Inc., and Futami decided to leave his position. But decisions like the one he made to move to the cloud are becoming increasingly common : U.S. revenue from public cloud computing is expected to increase 24% this year alone to $17.6 billion, according to IDC.

Phil Garland, a partner in the PricewaterhouseCoopers advisory practice, said that whether latency is an problem or not depends on the user's expectations, level of tolerance, and what works for the business.

"It really depends about what performance levels are acceptable to you, said Garland. "There is no question that the farther one is away from a data center, there will be an impact on performance," he said.

"But there are ways that many providers work around that by balancing between actual performance and perceived performance," said Garland. "A clever client design can alleviate many of those issues that are presented by high-latency environments -- at least up to a point."

Garland said there's no rule of thumb on user acceptance of latency. It depends on the function of the data and how critical it is. But the topic has grown in importance as companies move toward data center consolidation at the same time as global customer bases are expanding. "It's a very common discussion point right now," he said.


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