The Stack Archive

News: Public cloud offers poor customer service

Sun 20 Apr 2014

Using the public cloud means you have to expect poor customer service if something goes wrong according to Richard Thomas, chief executive officer of cloud monitoring specialist, NetEvidence.

“Stick it all on Amazon or Google and it’s really quite cheap, very scaleable, but there isn’t a lot of control,” he said. “And when things break, you will be looking at Twitter feeds and Facebook to try to find out what is going on, rather than speaking to a human being,” he warned.

He said the first stage of “becoming cloudy” was to start with a private cloud – a network of private servers. “That is expensive, but you have a lot of control. The next stage is a controlled public cloud using a single provider – sharing storage and servers with others. This makes scaleability easy but you are competing with others and bottlenecks are possible. Then, there’s the public cloud,” he said.

Thomas said he was using the private cloud for his customer-facing application, Highlight, but the controlled
public cloud through Claranet for testing his application.

Companies should start by looking at their app and what it is going to do, he said. “From that, you look at the demands the app will make on the environment it is running in, in terms of resilience, bandwidth, security and upgradeability – that defines which elements of the cloud pie you are going to choose.”

His app had tough requirements. “We have continuous collection from 100,000 touchpoints around the world. Connectivity is a big thing.

“And we have users in every time zone. That’s another thing to consider – when can you take the system down if you have users in every time zone? It’s like trying to repair an airplane without landing. So 24:7 uptime was really important to us.

“We like to do a lot of QA and testing. That had two main requirements: we need complex test environments; we need to be able to tear them down and rebuild them again very quickly; and we need to be able to scale up to cope with bursts of activity.”

Thomas said: “Before you jump into the cloud, you tend to obsess about the hardware. The cloud isn’t a single solution. It is a range of solutions you can take. You can take several options or not take them. The bottom line is that it works – just go carefully.”

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