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Wandering Towards The Lonely Cloud?

By Scott Crosby,

We have a guest editorial today as Steve is away on sabbatical.

As a freelance SQL Server DBA working in production and consultancy roles I seem to have inadvertently sidestepped "Cloud Computing”. I do wonder if I am doing my clients (prospective and existing) a disservice. I use DropBox for backup purposes, however, I seem to have developed some suspicions when it comes to SQL Server and “The Cloud”.

I was speaking to one of my fellow consultants (an MCM no less) at SQL Relay last year and he informed me that he'd convinced his latest client to go “cloud” by using AWS. Maybe an MCM has different clients than a lowly MCITP, but I felt that if I started trying to convince my clients to do likewise they'd walk me out the door. I am currently contracting for a client that is migrating from SQL 2005 to SQL 2008 R2 and not a cloud is in sight. I have no problem with that - it's their call and they have specific reasons for moving to that version, primarily data security. Some clients I have worked with have even refused to go virtual! They want physical tin, blade servers, something they can look after, fix and upgrade themselves. Some have shipped their DR databases “to the cloud”, but I find most SMEs I contract with still want production databases in-house.

Coincidentally when writing this editorial, SQLServerCentral ran a poll asking what people are using as their Cloud Platform. I wasn’t surprised to see that roughly 50% have no platform. I always feel this there's a SQL Server version for all companies and whilst I'm not suggesting we all go back to SQL 2000, for many companies pushing their databases into the cloud is for them, a step too far, especially when it comes to data security.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we should all move with the times eventually, but for some companies can it be a case of too much too soon? There is also the cost factor of hosting databases in the cloud, and I think that puts many companies off from making the jump. In ten years will all data storage be in the cloud? Steve Jones highlighted this in a previous editorial about on premise demands. Will locally sited physical hardware be obsolete? Does it really matter where your data is stored as long it’s backed up and is secure? 

A positive of this article is that it's forced me to go and check out AWS, Azure, et al and it has been good to learn something new. And this great article from Brent Ozar lists a number of real world alternatives to using SQL Server in the cloud.

All I can do, in a consultancy capacity at least, is bring plenty of options for any prospective client. Maybe they have read about new technologies as well so when I do mention about “going to the cloud” I don't receive blank looks or any weather related wise cracks!

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