I was hunting for a house not too long ago, and my real estate agent and I were all about three things: location, location, location. This made sense to me at the time, this is where you will live after all. And the neighbors, they would either be friendly or not. So you had to find an appealing neighborhood, and wait for the right house in that location. What does this have to do with picking your cloud service provider? As it turned out last month, quite a lot!
It used to be really simple to pick a service provider in the cloud. You found a service you liked, you signed up, and voila – you were in business. Over time, like most things, it got complicated. People started to worry about their service providers going out of business and leaving them up a creek. Then theft of data and information got big. Then there were the unfortunate cloud crashing incidents, and on and on. These past couple weeks, one more problem surfaced that has nothing to do with you – your «neighbors» in the cloud.
How on earth are you supposed to know who your neighbor in the cloud is? That is the point of the public cloud, after all, to not have to worry about those things. So, now if I am using a cloud service and my neighbors are being «noisy» (uploading the wrong content at 2AM), I have to worry about my data being sequestered and destroyed? Apparently yes. So now, picking a service provider just got even more difficult.
What do you do about it? Make sure you really need a service provider for what you want to do. Service Providers are amazing, they typically innovate faster than the rest of the market (see IaaS and Cloud). Over time, though, their innovations find a way into more traditional products. Services you had to outsource yesterday, you can definitely find in onsite products today (e.g. ownCloud for file sync and share).
If you are going to a service provider, remember it is all about location location location. Do your homework on your vendor, ask for references, make sure you know what you are in for. And even then, make sure you get another vendor to backup for your data because, even if it wasn’t your fault, your neighbors can spell disaster for your business in the cloud.