Lee LaFrese -

Unless you have your head in the sand, you probably have been bombarded with messages about how all things are moving to the cloud. Google, Amazon, IBM, EMC, SalesForce and numerous others are in a race for supremacy in this now all important market segment.

These and other vendors are trumpeting their cloud solutions that are going to make your life easy so you don’t have to worry about things like availability, reliability and performance. But what exactly is the cloud? And can it be trusted with one of your most important corporate assets – your data?

In my opinion, “the cloud” has become one of the most overused buzzwords in modern information technology. According to Wikipedia, the cloud is simply a “large number of computers connected through a real-time communication network such as the Internet.”

Risks of Outsourcing Data Storage to the Cloud

This does not sound like anything magical to me. In fact, by this definition, we have had our head in the cloud for years! But the really sexy part of cloud computing is to allow users to benefit from information technologies without the need for deep knowledge or expertise. The cloud aims to help the users focus on their core business instead of being impeded by IT obstacles.

But is totally outsourcing data storage really a good idea? When problems inevitably occur, can you rely on your cloud provider to keep your data safe and truly meet your service objectives?

Numerous occasions have proven that the answer to this is an emphatic NO. I believe it is essential that organizations keep a handle on their mission-critical applications and data to minimize the associated risks.

You need to maintain absolute control over the availability and integrity of your data as well as visibility into the performance aspects of the access to your data. This can be difficult with many of the cloud storage providers out there today.

For example even an ubiquitous cloud provider like Dropbox will only tell you if your data is available or if there is an outage. They won’t give you any indication of quality of service, loss of backup or other risks.

Outsource the Monitoring – Not the Data

At this point, I feel it is advisable to keep your mission-critical data in-sourced. This gives you the most control and visibility. This does not mean you can’t have trusted partners help you manage your internal infrastructure via a cloud-like service.

For instance, it is possible to leverage a vendor such as IntelliMagic to assist you with watching and optimizing your infrastructureIntelliMagic Vision as a Service provides some of the “worry free” aspects of the cloud by not outsourcing the data itself, but merely the monitoring.

The highly experienced consultants at IntelliMagic augment your staff providing specific supplemental knowledge and skills on storage infrastructures, while still keeping you in control.   This makes you and your staff more effective at avoiding risks, solving problems and keeping management happy.

So think twice before you trust your most important data to the cloud. Otherwise, your data could truly become caught up in a storm.

Still convinced you’re moving to the cloud? Read our blog post, “Which Workloads Should I Migrate to the Cloud?”

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Lee LaFrese
Senior Storage Performance Consultant
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