by Paul Rudo on 22/07/12 at 5:38 pm
There’s no doubt that cloud computing has had a tremendous impact on the IT industry within the past few years.
SaaS products are an attractive option for businesses that want cheap, feature-rich software without overhead or licensing costs. IaaS cloud hosting providers have also done a great job of winning over business executives with the promise of a datacenterless world where the business can adapt quickly to change, and where all of their servers come with built-in full-time support.
Many have claimed that cloud computing (in all of its forms)is such an attractive option that it will potentially do away with the role of the IT department. I don’t think this is true at all.
As great as hosted and managed services might be, they can only offer generic services which address tactical requirements of the enterprise. They will never be a replacement for a proactive IT leader who understands the company from the inside.
But a great IT executive does more than simply set up and maintain boxes. They also help guide IT initiatives to support corporate strategy, and ensure that IT systems are implemented and used according to corporate security, compliance and governance guidelines.
In this context, cloud computing can actually present a threat to the organization if unsupervised rogue employees are simply allowed to set up and use new hosted applications without any oversight.
But what will be the long-term implications of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS?
For a long time, I’ve been saying that cloud computing may very well pose a threat to the backup industry. This may seem hard to believe, since online backup is now one of the hottest-selling digital products.
But in the future, things may change.
Companies are now moving towards virtual desktop (VDI) environments in order to reduce costs and improve overall PC security. Productivity apps are also moving towards a browser-based environment, where files remain on a central server and are accessed over the Internet.
At the same time, popular operating systems and server platforms are available as hosted services. (SharePoint, Exchange, Red Hat, etc…)
These services offers are tremendously attractive from a convenience and TCO point of view. When you purchase pay-as-you-go hosted services like this, you take all of the hard work and put it on the shoulders of a team of specialists.
No more tweaking. No more updates. No more troubleshooting. And if you have any questions, you have an expert on-call to help you out.
Of course, these are all once-in-a-while headaches. But backup is the main maintenance outsourcing benefit which makes cloud hosting very attractive, since this affects IT managers every single day.
Nearly all of the benefits which can be obtained by backing up servers to a cloud-based service can be further increased by simply moving the whole server to the cloud sand allowing the hosting provider to perform your backups for you.
A recent survey of SMBs by Symantec also confirms many of these observations:
- 71% of SMBs surveyed reported that disaster preparedness was improved through the use of virtualization.
- 40% of surveyed SMBs reported that they have deployed public clouds.
- 34% of respondents reported that disaster recovery capability was an important factor in their decision to implement public clouds.
This survey was released in March of 2012, and aggregated input from over 2000 IT heads from companies ranging in size from 5 to 250 employees.
Although these figures are certainly impressive, it’s important that these organizations remain alert and proactive when it comes to availability and disaster recovery. It’s very tempting to place these responsibilities on the shoulders of a third party. But it should never be a substitute for personal accountability.
Make sure that these initiatives are implemented in a way that’s aligned with your company’s objectives… and always have a plan in case something should happen to your cloud host. At the end of the day, your company’s data is still your responsibility and nobody else’s.
Cloud hosting may not kill the backup industry, but it will certainly force it to adapt as consumers and businesses change the way they work with data.