Cloud Computing: Are you the master or the slave?

(WebHost Blog) In a land not unlike our own, there dwelt a large herd of horses. These horses however were troubled for they were under constant fear of wolves. Unable to attack the wolves and win, the horses required an ally. So they looked to a local village of humans. The humans were well equipped to kill the wolves, but they were too slow to actually catch them . So the horses made a pact. They would submit to saddle and bit to aid the humans in killing their mutual enemy. The humans agreed. Over the course of many weeks, horse and human rode together, hunting down and killing the wolves. At the end, the horses were delighted. Their enemies were wiped out and they could live without fear.

They thanked the humans and said we have killed the wolves together and now both of our races can live in peace. However, with the wolves gone, you no longer need us so please remove the saddle and bit. The humans laughed and said “no,” and applied the spur at will.

Isaac Asimov used this fable in many of his writings. I hope I have done it justice. In their haste to live without fear, the horse submitted themselves as slaves to the wills of others. Now you may wonder, what does this have to do with cloud computing?

One of the far reaching problems with cloud computing is interoperability. At the nuts and bolts cloud computing is a platform. Cloud computing therefore has hardware and software components. If you are adapting some of your business processes to the cloud, they must able to use that platform. Quick note, I am not talking about web hosting in the cloud. I am however talking about moving say your backups or your ERP, or your business’ database to the cloud.

Now the big problem with cloud interoperability is that software adapted for one specific cloud may not work for another. Which is fine and good if you like the cloud provider you are with, but what happens if they go out of business or get bought out (MediaMax and Cassatt comes to mind)? Or what happens if you simply don’t want to use them anymore?

No company should be a slave to the tools it uses and if you cannot move your business processes from one cloud to the next then, like the horse, a slave is what you will become. If you decide to use the cloud, you should keep interoperability foremost in your mind. You should be able to identify several options for your cloud systems should one fail and you should have a standard procedure of how to transfer everything as promptly as possible if the worse does happen.