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June, 2011:

Abandon IT Dept for the Cloud?

People have some interesting affinity for the latest and greatest solution, which gets applied to any and all problems. The grass is apparently so readily seen to be greener on the other side, that even common sense is left behind. I’m guessing there’s frustration afoot, which might be because of a slow or inept IT dept. But could also be because not enough funds are allocated to properly run the IT dept. Just saying.

This urge to always jump on the latest new technology is often done as if there’s a great emergency. The idea behind the Cloud is certainly interesting. But is moving your IT into the Cloud the right move, or are you asking for even more trouble?

Your IT dept has physical control, are motivated by how you run your business. In other words you can hire, fire and make demands to ensure they are aligned with supporting your business plan.

The Cloud however, is ENTIRELY out of your control.

In-house you can observe and handle security issues. On the Cloud you are hoping that they don’t have a staff failure, upsets, or whatever, which results in them not caring properly for your data/information.

In the Cloud which you are part of, you are part of many others, which certainly makes the Cloud a bigger target as far as, in the eyes of the criminal hacker, having higher potential payoff to hack. It’s more worthwhile to break into the Cloud.

When that happens, how do you act to protect your data?

There are many ways to “hack” into something. For example, in social engineering, where by pretending to be someone else, you talk people into giving you knowledge that opens the doors you want “unlocked” A simple phone call, or email, and someone might hand out the “keys”. It is very popular and easy to succeed with. It could also very well be that the people working the Cloud know better than Your average staff, than to fall pray for it.

Ultimately you need to look at your budget, evaluate the business impact of not having much of an internal IT dept, versus handing it out to someone else, and hope for the best.

True, you might already be hoping for the best. That your computers don’t get broken into, that IT knows what they are doing, etc. Data loss, for example, are more often caused by an upset employee, than some outside body. Making an argument for the Cloud. In theory it looks like the Cloud can be viable alternative.

I just don’t trust my business information, to be kept completely safe where things such as motivation, competence, reliability, etc. is not only unknown, but mostly unknowable. Where you can’t take advance action to ensure that the person being fired will not be able to cause you harm in a vengeful moment. Where, if the internet is down, you can’t do anything because all your data lives elsewhere.

Simply jumping on the Cloud because it is the hot thing that “everybody” is talking about, is not a very well evaluated reason. Most of the time common sense is the most reliable tool you have. Use it!