• Cloud computing & customer no-service – match made in heaven?

    14 Oct 2009

    I never thought I could be so productive. This week I’ve had less pressure to deliver. I’ve been able to turn “things” off. All while I’m attending a conference when I usually get even more behind. Well you see, my email isn’t working. My email security “application service provider”, I mean “managed service”, dang it, actually my “cloud computing” provider delivering “software as a service” has apparently decided to take a break from things. I haven’t received but 1 or 2 emails in the past two days…I normally get 75+ per day. It’s actually been a nice break – especially from all the spam. But it’s not what I was looking for.

    This outage is actually nothing new with my provider…It’s actually an ongoing issue I’ve had over the years. But the problem usually corrects itself within a few hours. Not this time. So I emailed the company last night using a personal email account and actually got a quick response. Impressive. I thought we were going to be able to have a dialog but apparently their support team decided that leaving for the day was more important. I’ve followed up with them twice since then…nothing. No response. But I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and not mention any names. It’s probably something simple. Likely something stupid on my part – I am the “dumb customer” after all.

    Side note: I know I can set my MX record to point directly to my email server and get my email back running again…or I could choose another provider. The problem is that I have over a day’s worth of emails stuck in my email security provider’s queue – likely several days worth since this problem started over a week ago. So I can’t give up hope on them just yet…I have to get my emails out.

    I’m telling you this story because you have a big, no grand, responsibility to make good IT and information security choices for your business. Buyer beware with cloud computing. Know that just because some cloud computing provider promises the moon that you’re actually going to get the service you need. They don’t know your business. They don’t understand your needs. Cloud computing providers are in business to make money, not coddle you with loving support and bend over backwards to get you up and running. I know, I know, there are lots of good cloud computing providers out there…but how do you know who they are? You usually won’t until you find out the hard way…as I am now. Just because your lawyers and their lawyers agreed upon certain terms in a contract doesn’t mean some yahoo in tech support is going to care when the time comes.

    I’m a one-man shop…imagine if this was a problem someone was having in a large corporation. Someone’s rear end would be in a sling right now. His or her job on the line. Speaking of cloud computing gone wrong, was your business affected by the Sidekick debacle? Maybe you’re already looking for work because of that…

    Don’t lose sight of the fact that security and managing information risks is about control and visibility. If you don’t have those because of some customer no-service situation then no matter how “cool” cloud computing is at the moment this hype over substance the marketers are pushing is probably not worth the risk.

    Enough said, I’ve got to get back to work and fix this…