Is Moving To The Cloud Worth The Risk?

by drjim on December 13, 2017

The cloud comes with risk, is it worth it?

The cloud comes with risk, is it worth it?
Image Credit:
Brad Clinesmith

By now I’m sure that because if the importance of information technology you’ve heard all about “the cloud”. This is the fantastic collection of servers and storage systems that are available to your company to use for a monthly subscription fee. All you have to do is pay your money, and then you can transfer your applications and storage from your expensive data centers to the much cheaper cloud systems. Sounds like a perfect solution to the ever present problem of too much to do and too little hardware to do it on, right? However, there are some serious drawbacks to moving your company’s IT operations to the cloud and you need to decide if the risk is worth it…

Is Moving To The Cloud Worth It?

The person in the CIO position sees the arrival of the cloud as being a new way to handle both their heavy computing work as well as the storage that goes along with it. However, when we are reading about yet another security breech in the newspaper almost every other day, just exactly how much trust can a CIO put in the third party firms that run the cloud?

One of the most important things to realize about the cloud and security is that this is not a new problem. Right now, as your applications and data sit in your data center, you have to be worrying about keeping everything secure. The list of threats keeps growing with things like “denial of service” attacks being added to it. One important aspect of the cloud is that the companies that provide cloud service realize that security is one of their customer’s major concerns. Because of this, they have invested heavily in securing the cloud so much so that they have the ability to employ a lot more people to focus on security than you can.

Another reason that firms are starting to view the cloud as being worth the risk is because of the agility that they can provide. The person in the CIO position used to have to make several large bets each year about which project was going to have the biggest impact on the company. Those projects would then get funded and hardware was purchased and installed. With the arrival of the cloud, costs are now much lower and multiple projects can be funded and several iterations of each project can be tried out for a very low price.

What Do You Need To Be Aware Of If You Are Moving To The Cloud?

The reason that a number of the cloud providers have shown up over the past few years is because they took a look at how we have been running our IT shops and they saw an opportunity. What they decided that they wanted to do was to provide us with a different customer experience. They have been looking to find out what is broken in how we are doing things and then they want to reinvent how things get done.

The availability of cloud services means that things like new servers can now be spun up in a matter of minutes, not days. What this means for the various parts of your business is that with a single phone call their next IT initiative can be off the ground and running. This allows a lot more imagination to be used in the company and the cloud is allowing a number of new and interesting business ventures to get up and running.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of moving into the cloud is that the configuration that you use to run your IT shop is no longer fixed. It used to be that you purchased a lot of equipment, your team tied it all together, and then nobody touched anything for fear of breaking things even if upgrades could have improved things. Moving everything to the cloud means that the cloud provider is responsible for interconnecting everything and when you want to do an upgrade or add a server, all it takes is a phone call.

What All Of This Means For You

The arrival of the cloud means that CIOs are now faced with a new set of decisions. The value of moving to the cloud can be very apparent and everyone likes to save money. However, moving applications and data out of the company’s data centers and into a third party provider’s cloud means that you’ve just increased your level of risk.

It’s making sure that you are comfortable with the level of risk that you are dealing with that is most important to CIOs. We read about a lot of security breaches and it sure seems as though if we move our apps and data out of our secure data centers we’ll be opening ourselves up to being breached. However, it turns out that in most cases the cloud providers do a better job of securing their data center than we do. The agility that moving to the cloud provides a company can be a big plus. Cloud providers find ways to fix the things that slow down an IT department. More parts of your business can move faster because of how quickly the cloud can be configured.

The cloud is here to stay. As CIOs we need to take a careful look at our own shop and understand what apps we are using and how much storage we need. Once we have a good understanding of this, we can then start to determine what parts of our shop can be moved out into the cloud in order to maximize our flexibility and allow us to grow our IT departments faster.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: If you move into the cloud, how will this impart the security systems that you already have in place?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I think that we can all agree that we are living in an increasingly dangerous world. As our companies understand the importance of information technology and acquire more and more valuable information, the bad guys keep trying to find ways to break in and steal customer credit card and personal information. As the person with the CIO job, it’s your responsibility to keep your company’s digital assets safe. It turns out that regulators have been watching us and they now think that securing the company is important enough that they are starting to create regulations in this area. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for CIOs?

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Cheap Ways To Connect Data Centers

by drjim on December 6, 2017

Data centers are only valuable if they can share data

Data centers are only valuable if they can share data
Image Credit:
Sean Ellis

As the person with the CIO job at your company, you have the added responsibility of maintaining your company’s data centers. No matter if you have only one data center or hundreds of them, they are only as valuable as their ability to communicate with each other and the outside world. The importance of information technology means that the accounting data stored in one data center is only useful if you can combine it with the tax information that is stored in another data center. Just exactly how are you going to ensure that your data centers can talk to each other?

Facebook’s Data Center Problem

The social networking giant Facebook has a data center problem that probably looks very much like the challenges that you are currently facing. As more and more of Facebook’s users are sharing online video and using games and other applications that require high-speed communications the need to interconnect their data centers has grown.

The challenges that Facebook has been facing when it comes to interconnecting data centers is that when they went looking for hardware that they could use to link their data centers using high bandwidth connections, all they could find were the major equipment vendors. This was not an ideal solution because the Facebook CIO knew that if the company started to rely on the software that is provided by the major hardware manufactures then they would be tied to them going forward. Additionally, the rate that these manufactures were improving their high speed high bandwidth gear was slower than Facebook wanted to move.

Facebook had faced a similar situation about five years ago. In that case, the issue had been the servers that they were purchasing to deploy in their data centers. The servers that were available on the market did not meet Facebook’s needs and the rate of innovation was too slow to keep up with Facebook’s changing demands. To solve this problem, Facebook launched the Open Compute Project in order to share what it had learned about building generic servers and spur the market to provide it with what it was looking for.

Facebook’s New Voyager Box

When it came to solving the problem of how to interconnect its data centers, Facebook decided that the same approach that they took with the Open Compute Project could be applied here. What they wanted to do was to create a “white box” project where generic equipment could be provided by a lesser known hardware manufacturer who could also offer lower prices than the major vendors.

The result of this effort is a new box called “Voyager”. Voyager is designed to allow a company to link geographically dispersed data centers using fiber optic cables. Facebook’s goal in developing Voyager is to get hardware companies to build and sell the device while at the same time getting software companies to write software that can be used to manage it.

The Voyager box has routing and switching features built in to it. The box has four ports that are each designed to send data over fiber optic networks at up to 200 Gbps. This transmission rate is equivalent to what the major hardware vendors are currently offering. The hope is that more hardware vendors will start to build this product and that will end up driving prices down.

What All Of This Means For You

When you are in the CIO position, you have the responsibility to make sure that the company’s networks are operating correctly. A key part of this is ensuring that the company’s various data centers are able to communicate with each other. These high bandwidth, high speed connections are expensive to buy and are only available from a few hardware manufacturers.

Facebook, the social networking giant, has faced the same problems. They have decided to solve this problem the same way that they solve the problem of not having the correct servers made available to them. They have created the open-source Voyager box. This box contains four interfaces that can operate at up to 200 Gbps in order to interconnect data centers.

It takes a company as big as Facebook in order to accomplish a task like this. Their open sourcing of the hardware that is used to interconnect data centers can only lead to higher quality products and lower costs. CIOs everywhere should be happy to hear about this new initiative and they should all support it.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Would you feel comfortable purchasing a “white box” device to interconnect your data centers?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

By now I’m sure that because if the importance of information technology you’ve heard all about “the cloud”. This is the fantastic collection of servers and storage systems that are available to your company to use for a monthly subscription fee. All you have to do is pay your money, and then you can transfer your applications and storage from your expensive data centers to the much cheaper cloud systems. Sounds like a perfect solution to the ever present problem of too much to do and too little hardware to do it on, right? However, there are some serious drawbacks to moving your company’s IT operations to the cloud and you need to decide if the risk is worth it…

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