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CIOs' list of demands for public cloud providers

Transferring data outside your four walls, particularly over the Internet, is not an appealing prospect to many CIOs.

But cloud uptime? Now that is an even larger trust issue that CIOs just can’t seem to get past. At least, not the CIOs attending a recent gathering of public cloud services providers sponsored by the trade and investment arm of the British Consulate-General.

The CIOs and cloud services providers came together to hash out what it’s going to take to get enterprises onto the cloud. Security was an issue, of course, with data transparency and knowing who has access to their data among the concerns.

As for performance, one CIO said he would FedEx a terabyte of data to a public cloud provider for fear that the provider’s network couldn’t handle a data transfer of that load. One attendee said performance uncertainties in the cloud could possibly weaken your disaster recovery plan.

The CIOs also didn’t trust that their public cloud providers wouldn’t go out of business. CIOs have a long memory and haven’t forgotten that seemingly well-established hosting providers can go out of business — think Exodus Communications.

In 2000, Exodus was the darling of the hosting industry, with revenue of $818 million, stocks worth $90 a share and 42 colocation facilities — not to mention nearly 5,000 customers, including Microsoft, Yahoo and the New York Stock Exchange. Many of the company’s customers, however, were dot-com startups that failed to pay their hosting bills, pushing Exodus further into debt as it continued to build and acquire more facilities. (Some experts believe that the next wave of winners in outsourcing will be the ones that have large infrastructures that can support the entire services layer, from software to hardware. That would require big investments in infrastructure, like those Exodus made.)

Public cloud providers are not immune — a few bad infrastructure and financial planning decisions could bring the multitenant house of cards down. What happens to customer data then? Just as they asked during the dot-com bomb and downfall of application service providers, CIOs want to know how public cloud providers will deal with porting data and services to another cloud provider, or back in-house.

They don’t want their data to end up as an asset in bankruptcy court.

But this is a nascent industry, and CIOs are willing to wait for public cloud providers to grow up a bit. And as they grow, CIOs would like the providers to keep these other capabilities in mind:

  • The ability to work offline, as well as online.
  • The ability to manage multiple cloud services and relationships under one umbrella.
  • The ability to speed up, not slow down, change management.

CIOs are sending clear messages to public cloud providers. It will be interesting to see how the providers live up to these demands — or maybe private clouds are the way to go?

Let us know what you think about this blog post; email Christina Torode, News Director.

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It is good that IT (and hopefully corporate) leadership is aware that deploying operational data to a platform is not simply "fire and forget." We know we are obligated to perform due diligence to some extent prior to engaging in activities that may affect our company and our customers, protecting the company and meeting compliance requirements. I believe that our biggest challenge of moving to a vendor run cloud is different and less frequently addressed than the topics covered in the initial posting. The biggest impact of losing a cloud vendor (or for that matter a hosting vendor) on which you run large, critical operations is on business continuity*. The promise of using hosted services/hosted platforms/cloud is that you can save big on people, energy, software, hardware…. Once we laid ‘em off and turned ‘em off we might be in a bit of a pickle to adapt and move our processes and applications to a new vendor-- even with some warning of a bankruptcy or significant change in architecture, applications, or offerings. We need to plan for the effort and resources required to ensure business continuity and be able to decide when we need to act. We need to monitor and communicate with our vendor to ensure we get a heads-up to that which will impact us, be prepared to assess the risk and, if necessary, find a solution. This isn’t a one-time thing—it’s a continuing process based on situational awareness, risk, impact, and cost.