How to Avoid Cloud Computing Mishaps

Please enjoy this guest post by Ryan Galloway

The cloud is often touted as the undisputed future of computing, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

Cloud computing on an enterprise scale is a relatively young technology and, like so many young technologies, it’s still learning where the sharp corners are.

Many of the general mishaps of cloud computing will likely be prevented by advances in user-facing technology in the near future.

But in the interim, it’s important to know that the convenience and speed of the cloud comes with some inherent risks that require some attention and a little bit of education.

The single biggest threat to uneducated cloud users is the loss of data from carelessness or lack of planning. Most cloud environments are highly monitored by trained IT staff. However, it’s also incumbent on the end user to understand and avoid the behaviors that may cause a security issue.

Education here is key, so let’s run down a list of ways end users can avoid the most common cloud mishaps:

1. Watch where you connect. Accessing your cloud from unsecured mobile hotspots is a great way to have your data corrupted and your sensitive information compromised. While we’re not saying that every coffee shop with Wi-Fi is a hornet’s nest, it’s best to avoid them when possible. Think of how much data you’re storing in your network. If you are accessing your most essential files, it is worth asking yourself if the latte is worth it.

2. Have a migration plan. Transitioning to the cloud from conventional computing isn’t easy at the best of times (and it’s usually not the cloud end that causes that difficulty). But trying to implement a migration without a migration plan is just asking for chaos. Not only will it be inconvenient and arduous, it may also disrupt your business.

3.¬†Hire a professional. If your company doesn’t have a dedicated IT resource person, hire one or find a consultant. If you do have an IT person, but he/she/they stare blankly when you ask about cloud implementation and developing a migration plan, find better IT resources. Cloud providers offer a range of convenient services, but they can’t alleviate disorder and lack of knowledge on your end.

4. Invest in security. There are a lot of cloud service providers out there. Some are great. Others are mediocre. A few are bargain-basement, get-what-you-pay-for entities that give you bare-bones hosting with lax or even nonexistent security support. Just because the offering is cheap doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Shop around and a find a secure provider you can trust.

The cloud’s potential is almost limitless, but it’s far from foolproof. Think of the cloud like a tool. Just because you’ve bought a great nail gun doesn’t mean you know how to use it. Spend the time and familiarize yourself with the terminology and capabilities of the cloud. Your customers will be glad you did.

This post is by Rackspace blogger Ryan Galloway of Rackspace Hosting which is the service leader in cloud computing, and a founder of OpenStack, an open source cloud operating system. The San Antonio-based company provides Fanatical Support to its customers and partners, across a portfolio of IT services, including Managed Hosting and Cloud Computing.