Cloud Computing and Banking have many similarities.
Some similarities of Cloud Computing and Banking:
> Provide a home for assets
> Are location independent
> Require great security
> Require near 100% uptime
Banking has been around for a long long time, going back to 2000BC. Cloud Computing has in a sense been around since the 90s, but only in the last few years with the massive uptake of virtualisation, has the term been coined and then started to enter into common language.
Hotmail is an example of a Cloud service that has been around for a long time – 1996 to be exact – and the users of Hotmail (myself included), don't really care geographically where their data exists, just that it is secure, and they can log into it and access their emails from wherever they may be.
“Will Cloud Computing Become as Natural a Thing To Do as Banking?”
It is pretty automatic for someone or some company to put money in a bank – you earn money or the company makes money, and pretty much without any thought, that money ends up in a bank. The question asks whether eventually all data assets will be placed in the Cloud, in much the same way as financial assets get placed in a bank.
My view is that eventually this will happen but not for a long time – a long time being at least a good 20 years.
My position is as someone who uses the Cloud (pretty much everyone does even if they don't realise it), and loves the technology behind the Cloud.
Why a long time?
You need to look at the Banking sector. The Banking sector has had many years to mature. And there are good banks, bad banks, small banks, big banks, banks that go bankrupt, banks that bring down the global economy – but one thing that is common is that there exists regulation by some kind of Financial Standards Authority (indeed, that regulation does not always work.) And most people generally trust their bank to look after their money without question (okay, there are some people who continue to stuff notes into a shoebox and hide under their bed – each to their own). The Cloud Computing sector needs time to mature yet, and as the Cloud Computing sector develops there will need be some form of regulation to make sure peoples' data assets are as protected as their financial assets.
Some things to be careful of with the Cloud and Cloud Providers
What guarantees do you have regards data security?
> Who is looking after your data and what vetting have they had?
> How protected is your Cloud Provider from hacking?
> What happens to your data if your Cloud Provider goes bust?
> Who is responsible if something goes wrong?
> Is the Cloud Platform hosting your data being looked after by experts?
What guarantees do you have regards performance and uptime?
> Most Cloud Providers will give uptime SLAs – they may guarantee 99.999% uptime – and all might seem well and good. Be careful though that the Cloud Provider is not just hedging their bets – they may be using relatively cheap kit to provide a service, and know that if something does go wrong they can afford to pay any penalties with the profit they are making.
> Performance guarantees like application response times, application latency, upload and download bandwidth are very important – a Cloud hosting provider may be able to host all your data cheaply, but can they serve your data as quickly as your company needs to get to it?
> And the point of the Cloud is that your data is not geographically tied to any one location, so what happens if your Cloud Provider has a datacenter outage and your data was running live in that datacenter at that time, how quickly, and how successfully will it fail over to another datacenter, and with how little loss? And how often is this tested?
How does the cost really compare?
> When faced with a massive IT Infrastructure refresh project, or going Cloud, the Cloud can seem massively attractive in terms of no upfront CAPEX, and just a monthly OPEX. The CAPEX needs to be weighed against the lifecycle of an IT Infrastructure refresh project – i.e. would a financed CAPEX actually turn out less that the OPEX?
Certainly companies that have their own resources – such as multiple geographic sites with server space already – stand to gain less from potential Public Cloud savings.
If you do not like your Cloud Provider, how easy is it to move?
> The whole point of the Cloud is mobility and freedom, and like with a Banking analogy where, if you don't like your bank you can leave and wire the funds to another bank; with the Cloud it should be the same to change to a new provider if things aren't working out. If you end up chained to one Cloud Provider, there is no freedom in that.
How do you know you are not getting fleeced?
Any good Cloud Provider should be able to offer Chargeback terms where you are only charged for what you use, and they should be providing detailed reporting on utilisation.
Will your Cloud Provider care about you, and will they understand your business?
Once you've been signed up and had data migrated to a Cloud Provider, no longer are your data assets being looked after by people who are dedicated to and understand your business, you may become just one of many – a supplier relationship. Cloud is just another way of saying “we are outsourcing this.” Outsourcing is not necessarily a bad thing though, the Cloud Provider should have excellent skills, skills that perhaps an internal team would not have now or ever.
Thank you for reading, and please feel to debate.
PS This post has purposely not touched on the Private Cloud v Public Cloud debate – one for another time....