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Cloud Concerns

By Steve Jones,

When I get feedback about cloud computing from DBAs, the main concern seems to be data security, or the perception of problems with security from a cloud provider. That's natural as sending your data to the cloud doesn't necessarily remove the responsibility for security from the purview of the DBA, yet you don't have complete control over the way the data is managed. Various providers are working on their security and passing certifications, though this doesn't necessarily make many DBAs feel comfortable with databases in the cloud.

However security may not be your number one concern. Outages and business continuity should be your primary concern. As noted in this article, cloud service outages have been more common than lost data. It's much more likely that the service will go down, and if it does, what do you do? Contacting a cloud services company, and receiving fast answers aren't likely when a cloud outage usually affects a large number of customers.

However business continuity is important. If your database, or application server goes down, what would you do? In most cases you would sit in your office waiting for the cloud provider to come back online. That's not much different from in-house failures where you may wait on the network or OS administrators to recover a host server. In a few of the disasters I've experienced, I only had slightly more control than I'd guess a cloud provider gives me.

In either case, having good backups and a strategy to bring your system online in the event of an extended outage is important. I suspect that will mean hybrid public/private cloud applications that can function from an alternative location will need to be an architectural requirement for many businesses.

Steve Jones

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