BYTE ME: The good, bad and ugly of cloud-based storage
TODAY we dispel some of the lies, myths and mist associated with cloud computing.
This article will have some appeal to home users but will prove to be vital reading for business owners. Here we are mostly looking at the transition from an onsite or premises-based server or database to a cloud-based option.
With many Australian regions transitioning to NBN-based internet connections, it is hoped that the resulting connection speeds are better than the previous connection models offered. If this is the case, then the option of storing important data 'in the cloud' has become more of a reality. Along with this, the option of using cloud-based servers or databases is also more of a reality.
Cloud-based storage is growing in popularity and facilities such as DropBox, iCloud and OneDrive are proving very popular and worthwhile. Particularly in the past two years they have become very 'mature' market offerings and can offer a central storage facility for a user's differing devices, such as a desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone.
In the above scenario you can 'upload' pictures or documents from 'any' device to the cloud so that they become accessible from 'all' the devices that you own. Normally this 'access' to cloud-based files is not hypersensitive to time delays or data transfer rates - so the end user has a positive experience. This is not always the case for all cloud-based offerings.
If a business puts a point-of-sale package or a customer database in the cloud, then they are totally dependent on both internet connectivity and speeds. This situation becomes even more troubling if a business opts for a cloud-based server to run their custom apps on. Here the entire business can be dead in the water due to a connection issue or a routing issue or simply a server issue - that may take days to resolve.
The cloud holds no magic bullet for server reliability. Cloud-based servers still need tech support, updates, anti-virus, patches and occasional reboots. A few months ago a customer purchased a $65,000 server from us to run their entire business. This server has now been supplied and will last them for five years. The alternative cloud-based server quote was $7000 a month and added to $420,000 over five years!
What is even more troubling are some of the phone calls to business customers from a major telco trying to push them to 'cloud everything' and promising that they will not need a computer technician once this is done. These hollow promises come from sales staff that make their commissions and disappear - never to be contacted again or held accountable once the entire project goes pear-shaped. If having a cloud-based server will negate the need to still have a business-based network, with secure PCs, password protection, data security and the ability to put print on paper, then I will walk to Bourke and back. Businesses need to be extra wary of this recent outbreak of sales propaganda.
Bruce Kerr, Byte Me.
Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave St or on 4922 2400.