Can You Really Trust “The Cloud”?

Business-oriented cloud services have exploded over the past ten to fifteen years.  From basic email services such as Gmail and Hotmail right up to fully integrated ERP systems such as NetSuite, there are offerings to suit businesses of all shapes and sizes.  As the type of services being delivered from the cloud become more immersive within a business, the level of risk to that business increases should there be any service outages or operational problems.  So, from a business perspective, can you really trust the cloud?

A common dictionary definition of the word “trust” is: a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. Therefore with respect to “the cloud” as a whole; or with a more business-focussed view, with respect to cloud-delivered services we can define trust in the cloud as being a belief in the reliability of those services and their ability to provide vital and valuable functions for our businesses.  So is such a belief realistic?

By way of the ability of cloud-services to provide vital and valuable business functions we only have to look at the number and type of customer purported to be using the services already. Saleforce.com stated in 2015 that they had over 150,000 customers so it would certainly seem to be true that there is a level of trust in the provision of cloud-based CRM services. But it is not only such basic sales statistics which we should use to deem whether cloud-delivered services have the ability to benefit our businesses.  For that we should be seeking to go deeper into the success of cloud-delivered services in meeting the needs of different businesses across different business sectors.  Thankfully that is a simple task in that as long as we trust the marketing information freely available on supplier’s websites then we can build a picture as to whether that cloud-delivered service is suitable for our businesses.

A great example of customer testimonials is provided on the Netsuite website (just click the CUSTOMERS link at the top of every webpage on the Netsuite site). Not only are there a range of testimonials provided for review but there are options to “Find a customer like you” by searching by Industry, by Applications Replaced, by Business Need and by Region. This provides a mechanism whereby we can all search testimonials from businesses akin to our own, or needing the same functionality as our own businesses to determine if NetSuite has the ability to provide the functionality that we need.  The same testimonials are available on the websites of all mainstream cloud services companies; all of which would certainly suggest that we should have faith in the ability of cloud-delivered services.  What then of reliability?

When it comes to web-delivered or cloud-delivered services there are plenty of third-party sites on which customers can provide their opinion of service reliability. However, in the 24x7 online news world in which we now operate the cloud-delivered service providers have realised that it is important to be fully open with current and prospective clients as regards service operational status and hence publish in real-time their operational status and hence openly advertise the reliability of their systems and services.  Cynics might state that this is because it is more difficult to try to hide any outage information, but whatever the rationale this is information that we can use to determine whether we have faith that a cloud-delivered service is reliable (or reliable-enough) for our businesses. If you want to look for yourself try status.netsuite.com for detailed real-time operational status of Netsuite systems, or trust.salesforce.com for Salesforce.com systems.

Analysing customer testimonials, online operational status reports and the myriad of third-party review sites is something which can take significant time and effort. Doing this for the top-tier cloud providers should however demonstrate what I believe to be true, that you can indeed trust the cloud.

 

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