An Area of Concern

By Tony Kontzer Print this article Print

There are many success stories about the public cloud, but concerns about security, portability, reliability and access to systems remain.


An Area of Concern

The potential for such interruptions in services is an area of concern that Charles Zieres, director of technology for Preferred Hotel Group, shares with other public cloud customers. Zieres moved Preferred's entire application portfolio to Terremark's cloud-based infrastructure five years ago after determining that the cost of a five-year contract would be about the same as a new generation of hardware that would have had about the same shelf life.

The Chicago-based company, which provides marketing, reservations, purchasing and other pooled services to a network of more than 1,000 independent boutique hotels, uses a Citrix interface to enable employees to access applications.

Even though the reliability of Terremark's infrastructure has proven far more dependable than Preferred's own co-located data center, Zieres continues to worry about having all of the company's eggs in somebody else's basket.

"We recently had a firewall outage for an hour-and-a-half, [during which] our whole company was shut down," he says. "If we were down for a day, that would be really bad."

Ideally, Zieres says, he'd like to do business with a second cloud infrastructure vendor as a business continuity solution. For now, however, he keeps his concerns in perspective by recalling the more frequent outages the company used to endure.

It probably hasn't hurt that Preferred has been able to double in size over the past four years without adding the three IT employees Zieres believes would have been needed to support that growth had the company not moved to the cloud. Those savings, in turn, countered the expense of forming an e-commerce team that created an improved booking interface and rebuilt Preferred's Websites.

If that's not enough to put Zieres at ease, he also recently renegotiated a new deal with Terremark, and Moore's Law ensured that he got twice as many computing resources for the same price.

That, in a nutshell, sums up the current state of the public cloud: If you want the big benefits, you have to live with the risks.  

This article was originally published on 2012-04-23
Tony Kontzer is a freelance writer for Baseline magazine.
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