The byline for this piece about cloud computingis great. It a sarcastic comment about problems in the cloud, and if you read it, then maybe you won’t think every problem in the cloud is cause for the complete abandonment of cloud computing as a tool in your technology toolbelt. As cloud vendors grow, they often standardize and build more homogenous infrastructures that could have cascading failures. We’ve seen this in the past with hosting companies that provided data center services, and we’ve seen it in large companies that centralize and standardize their systems.
When I started my career, I saw in in mainframe computing as well. That was more amusing as we would all stand up in our cubes, and if you saw a significant number of others standing up, you knew the entire mainframe was down. These days I think Twitter lets us know as quick as any monitoring software when there’s a large outage. That’s assuming Twitter isn’t down.
Whether you move to the cloud, outsource any services to another company, or even host your physical servers in someone’s data center, you need to use common sense for your architecture, security, and monitoring. If you don’t control the physical hardware, you must be more diligent about security. If you move data around, be aware of security controls and implement tunnels or strong encryption. Above all, make sure you have good backups at your location, and away from the cloud provider. If the worst case scenario happens, you should still have your data.
The cloud isn’t for every situation, just like outsourced data centers or IT services aren’t for every company. However there are a lot of advantages to moving to a cloud environment, and it may reduce costs. That last item might be enough for your company to force moves to the cloud, despite objections from sysadmins and DBAs. Learning more about cloud computing and services like SQL Azure is a skill that DBAs ought to consider. Even if cloud computing isn’t likely in your industry, you might find yourself in a different industry next year.