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Cloud lessons learned the hard way

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It makes good theoretical sense for users to drive their own IT, and cloud applications and services make this easier every day. Too often, however, users lack the training, skills and discipline to roll out an organized technology strategy, cautions consultant David Taber in a post at CIO magazine. He spells out three cloud services lessons that have been learned the hard way.

With cloud customers cropping up all over the enterprise, there is effectively no system ownership once a service or application is up and running, writes Taber who says his "entire consulting firm is based on fixing cloud systems that have been put in quickly and managed haphazardly, if managed at all." Lack of staff dedicated to the service puts a company in a vulnerable position because of the potential cost of lost or compromised data.

The first lesson is that data tends not to be expunged from the cloud even when you delete it. Data back-up and replication in the cloud is optimized for high performance and fast failover, rather than for easy expunging. So even though a deleted file will no longer be in view, it will probably remain in one version or another.

"Why do you care?" Taber asks. "Next time you go through a legal discovery process, the smart opposing council will hire a forensic expert witness to look through all the files and records you thought had been deleted. Have fun with that."

The second lesson is that a cloud customer needs a "data steward," which is a business analyst who knows what data shouldn't be stored in the cloud, who can set up naming conventions and file trees, and who can keep data from becoming polluted and validate reports.

Finally, even though end users love the ease of procuring cloud services, they often end up looking for the leverage and efficiency of an IT system, Taber warns. However, this requires a system architect and a "general contractor" to manage cloud services and get the most out of them.

For more:
- see David Taber's post at CIO

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