More Reasons the Cloud is Not a Fluffy Magic Box

Soon after I told you that the cloud is not a fluffy magic box, I found this great post over on an Information Week blog on 3 things that could kill the cloud which points out some more sobering realities of the cloud, which is just really an abstraction of the multi-tenant SaaS model where one provider provides the software and another provides the infrastructure the software runs on. The article has some good points that should be taken into account before you decide that the cloud is the answer. (Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.)

  1. Scalability is not Unlimited

    First of all, at any point in time, the infrastructure provider has a limited amount of hardware and bandwith available. When that is reached, you’re out of scalability until the provider ramps up. Furthermore, even if the provider ramps up, there’s still a practical limit dictated by the software. Most databases start to fail miserably when you get to the Terrabyte range. Most analytics applications fail miserably when you ask them to process millions of records in real time. Etc.

  2. Security is not Absolute

    The cloud does not inherently provide more security as some vendors would have you believe. In fact, it might even provide less. In reality, the security of any platform comes down to the knowledge and vigilance of the provider’s people and how well they are at identifying potential holes, locking them down, and keeping up with patches. If the software vendor assumes a certain port will be locked down and the infrastructure provider leaves it open or if the hardware vendors assumes the software vendor will patch core applications and vice versa, security is weakened.

  3. Prices can be Higher

    While up front prices are quite cheap as you’re primarily paying for energy costs (to run and cool the CPUs) and bandwidth, and while the Cloud will be cheaper for small-scale applications, the reality is that for large scale, high-bandwidth, applications, the total costs can be more expensive than running your own data centre as most providers don’t yet have the scale and expertise to beat in-house costs. You have to do the analysis.

  4. Your application can disappear in a puff of smoke.

    Thanks to the Patriot act, if a drug dealer happens to be using the same multi-tenant provider, in the US the FBI can sweep in and seize *every* server in the data centre, regardless of what else is on the servers, shutting down the entire operation of the infrastructure provider for an unspecified time — like they did to Core IP Networks in April.

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