Tuesday 22 June 2010

Cloud Hype and a Cause For Pause – OWN, Microsoft, and Intuit

I have always been a bit of a sceptic. From business to life, one needs to be very careful about giving one’s word and accepting another’s.

In business, we have business relationships that have been built up over the years. Our longest standing client relationship is now running over 11 years!

In those business relationships, we have built up a strong trust between us and our client contacts and business owners.

As a result, we have an understanding with our ongoing clients that sometimes things do not work out quite the way we would expect them to. For the most part, when things don’t work, the problems tend to last hours instead of days and we do our best to make up for any lost time.

In our experience with Cloud vendors such as OWN (our primary Cloud partner), there have been a few service related issues causing slow downs, but so far we have not seen a complete service outage other than for server/cluster reboots.

As we can see, most of the indicator’s in OWN’s NOC status has to do with ongoing maintenance.

Now, let’s have a look at Microsoft’s Cloud offering in the form of BPOS:

The MOSN RSS link comes to us courtesy of Susan Bradley.

When we look at Microsoft’s RSS feed, we can see that there are a lot of service outage reports.


From here we look at Intuit’s latest:

In Intuit’s case, this latest outage lasted around 2 days for most customers with some still dealing with issues after that.

The Cause for Pause when it comes to hype about the Cloud is to make sure that the Cloud services we choose on behalf of our clients, or that they choose, are indeed the best option for them.

Microsoft or OWN?

When we look strictly at hosted e-mail and SharePoint, we can see by the above two RSS feeds that OWN provides a far superior uptime and service quality to the Microsoft offering. Yes, OWN has been at it a lot longer than Microsoft . . . and it shows.

Only time will tell if Microsoft’s offering provides the same level of Cloud service performance and stability as OWN’s hosted Exchange and SharePoint solution does.


Part of any evaluation is to look at the costs associated with being disconnected from those Cloud based services.

For folks needing to process payroll during that two day outage at Intuit Online, there was probably a lot of nail biting going on by both management and their employees.

On top of payroll, any inventory, sales, or other business related activities would have been impacted. Calculating the lost time and revenues for these business aspects can be very difficult.


Internet Connection

If a client’s Internet connection goes down and they are totally cut off from the Internet, the cost associated with this type of service outage needs to be considered. A USB modem via cellular or other wireless form of Internet connection for critical PCs may be an alternative backup plan.


Just as it is with any other new technology, we need to test and make sure that any Cloud based service will follow through on its promises.

We need to dig deep into a Cloud based vendor’s reputation or lack thereof and find out if they really follow through on their commitment to provide good value and trouble free services.

Since the Cloud is a relatively new push, we are seeing a rush of new vendors vying for a piece of the Cloud pie. These new vendors are essentially untested technologies and should be approached as such . . . with great scepticism and caution on behalf of our clients.

And finally, the question to ask any business owner is, “How long can your business be down before the possibility of closing the doors looms?”

Obviously this question must include _all_ aspects of a business’s processes to provide a thorough answer not just the usage of Cloud based technologies.

Some light reading:

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*Our original iMac was stolen (previous blog post). We now have a new MacBook Pro courtesy of Vlad Mazek, owner of OWN.

Windows Live Writer


Anonymous said...

I wonder if you still feel the same way about OWN, all the numerous outages in this past month, its hurting my reputation.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...

You know, in the last number of years since we partnered with OWN we have had two outages of significant proportions.

One where mailbox maintenance caused our hosted Exchange 2010 clients to lose connection to their mailboxes for a few days.

And this one which was about eight to ten hours.

In the end, OWN is pretty much comparable to everyone else out there.