Your Head in the Cloud(s)    

We have over the years of data management seen many migrations away from old and towards new platforms. The platform shifts we have witnessed were and still are driven by two main factors; money and productivity, and this current shift is no different. This paper is being put forth to fill in some of the gaps I have seen in regards to this current shift.

A flash back in time; before my birth 1966 computer environments were based on main-frame and mini-frame systems connected to terminals. The costs of RAM and storage were high, and a text only terminal was enough for an employee to do their job. Early personal computers were costly in both their acquisition and the training needed for the operation of the PC.

Moving forward a few years; the introduction of applications like Lotus123 and Excel allowed for a higher level of utility for the PC. This increase in utilization coupled with decreasing costs in RAM and storage heralded the demise of the mini-frame, the terminal, and the delegating of the main-frame to huge data environments. Once again money and productivity were driving factors in change.

Now, in this the current year (2017), we are seeing the ongoing migration of yet another shift based on money and productivity, this time data is going to the Cloud. I understand why business decision makers like the Cloud: no CAP-X, elasticity, and mostly predictable monthly billing. On the productivity front, by placing data and Information Communication Technologies (ICT) in the Cloud the improvement in access is obvious.

My twenty years or so of networking experience has trained me to look at things with connectivity front of mind. The old saying “Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket”, has not lost its potency in our connected world. I will say that possibly the aforementioned saying has taken on greater rhetorical importance.

The connectivity of an organization has become a cornerstone of operational success and an intrinsic part of our everyday lives. We have embraced the idea that connectivity is normal that most people wouldn’t know what to do without it. I have long joked that I would get less pushback from people if I closed the office washroom for four hours than if I dropped the network for 30 minutes. By moving more and more data and data related services to the Cloud I’m now forced to update my humours jibe to include; not just the Local Area Network (LAN) but now must also include the means of data ingress and egress to the public Internet, the internal network of the ISP, the connectivity of your ISP to all other ISP organizations.

By moving to the Cloud, an organization losses influence over the path between their employees and the data which the employees need access to perform their duties. Consideration must be given to the idea that connectivity equates to money and the loss of the former will result in the loss of the later.

Stepping up your network game is a must when your infrastructure is based on the Cloud. Your infrastructure shopping list is going to have to double up on as much as you can afford. One switch is not going to be enough, same goes for your firewall and your ISP selection has to be expended to two with two different connectivity options. When it comes to carrier diversity there are many options for SMB organizations or the branch offices of larger organizations. The standard choices of broadband are well known to most people though with the emergence of 3G/LTE technology this may also prove effect in some cases. Regardless of the technology you choose keep in mind that these technologies are ‘residential grade’ and therefore have lax Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Mean Time to Repair (MTR) obligations.

In conclusion, I hope that I achieved my goal in bringing you talking points for the next IT meeting where you can provide assurances that your Cloud based solution is meeting its infrastructure and savings goals or that there are holes in the plan which must be addressed or at the very least the risks are understood and acknowledged by the stake holders and the decision makers.
Orginally published May, 2017

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