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The Importance of My Cloud Data

By Steve Jones,

I recently rebuilt my laptop, and when I installed Office, there was an offer to sync my Office data up to the cloud. I declined since I already use Live Mesh to sync data across multiple machines, a Windows Home Server for local backups, and Dropbox for remote ones. It's not that I don't like the cloud, but that I'm not sure I, Steve Jones, can trust the cloud.

There was an outage at Hotmail recently that involved SQL Server. That's bound to happen as the larger you are, the more likely it is that you will have some sort of failure.  It's inevitable, and hopefully you have done enough planning to recover quickly. I don't know where the Hotmail team failed, but they certainly failed somewhere.

The cloud works because it provides some great economies of scale, a much more efficient use of computing resources. For many people, that means it can also be a much cheaper way to get the services they need. Even companies could do find advantages in using cloud-based services.

However this outage shows one of my major concerns. It's not that I find Hotmail unreliable, or that I worry about security. It's that when something breaks, and it will, I'm not sure Hotmail will care a lot about my data. If Steve Jones, Inc., a company paying Microsoft $1000 a year for mail, Office, etc.,  winds up losing 3 days of service and 1 week's worth of data, will Microsoft care? What if the same failures affect a large company, one that pays Microsoft $1,000,000 a year? Whose data will they work harder to restore?

Ultimately economics and realities set in. Microsoft, and every single other cloud provider out there, will worry about the larger customers first, and perhaps not even bother to finish restoring data for the smallest ones if there is not enough cost benefits. They might even refund the payments of someone to compensate them.

If it's my data, however, I'm not sure that's good enough. I'm also not sure it's a risk I want to take.

Steve Jones


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