Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Will Your Cloud Provider Be Around in Two Years?

I just read that my hosting company, GoDaddy, is on the auction block to be sold to the highest bidder. Naturally, I’m thinking of how this change of ownership could adversely affect the service of my web sites, blogs, and virtual servers.  One never really knows until the new owners take over. Maybe they clean house and things change for the better. Or they may look to cut costs and things could take a downward turn. Migrating to a another service would a pain but I could do it if needed.

This brings to mind the current state of the cloud computing market. The mad gold rush of cloud services providers continues. Everyone wants a piece of the action.  These companies offer a variety of hosting services for IT infrastructure, platforms and applications.  The lure of moving to the cloud is obvious. Let someone else do it better, cheaper, more reliably and worry about the  details. More organizations are taking advantage. Companies, large and small, are moving their data, applications, and systems to one or more of the legion of providers out there.  This means more dependence on these providers for accessing business critical resources.  Although there are some obvious leaders in the cloud market today ( Google, Amazon, Salesforce), there are also a many smaller boutique providers that compete mostly on price.

In coming years, I expect the market to settle. Some providers will flourish, others will go down in flames or be acquired by one of the larger shops. These changes could have real consequences to customers. What happens if your provider is using proprietary technology and goes out of business?  Migrating to a new provider might be difficult. Doing your due diligence before selecting a provider is very important. Verifying the financial stability of the company and developing a strong service level agreement are key requirements.  Your SLA must address uptime, performance and security. The ability to audit your provider is also very important.

Many small businesses would not exist without the cloud. Building, hosting, and managing an IT infrastructure can be cost prohibitive. Choosing the right provider, however, may be the difference between success and failure.


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