What if there was a Better Cloud

By Daniel Antion posted 07-24-2012 17:04


A few minutes ago I followed a link in a Tweet from @petapixel to a story about Instagram coming to the web to do battle with sites like Flickr and Picaso. A sense of fear crept over me as soon as I stopped to consider “oh no, what if I like it?” You see, I have over 3,000 photographs on Flickr. How would I ever move those to Instagram? OK, since Facebook bought Instagram, that may be an irrelevant question, but in fact, I still have about 400 photos on SnapFish that I would like to transfer to Flickr. Flickr lets me move photos TO SnapFish (for printing and projects) but I don’t think they offer any help moving them FROM SnapFish. One suggestion on their help forum was to simply re-upload them to Flickr. You know where this is heading…

Currently, I am working to find homes in SharePoint for something in the neighborhood of 60,000 documents that our engineers have collected over the years. Let’s assume that I pare that down to 30,000 documents and stick it on SharePoint in the Cloud (which seems to be all the rage), what happens if my successor wants to use Box? No matter how good broadband access gets, it isn’t likely to beat LAN speeds in my lifetime. Unfortunately, my successor won’t be as “lucky” as I am; if I move documents to the cloud my goal will be to get rid of the local copy.

I go to seminars and webinars where they talk about cloud-based this and cloud-based that, but nobody ever talks about migrating between cloud solutions. I asked Laurence Hart about this after his presentation on Cloud-Based Content Management at the AIIM Conference (you can hear his answer at 26:20) and he told me that switching vendors might be even harder in the cloud than it is on premises. He pointed out that with an on premises solution; you have your content, while cloud vendors have no incentive to help you get your content back out of their solution. This is exactly what I am experiencing with my photographs.

Is it me? Am I missing something new in the world of interoperability? I ask that because when I hear people talking about cloud-based solutions, I hear them talk about the benefits. I hear them tell me not to worry about the problems I “imagine” i.e. security, access, reliability and backup; but I never hear them tell me “and if you want to move you content somewhere else, it’s easy as pie” – no Laurence Hart pun intended.

#interoperability #SharePoint #flickr #ECM #sharepoint #cloud


08-07-2012 07:15

I would agree that we have always had issues like this, but I do think the decisions around cloud-based computing are a slightly different animal. It’s true that I can get the features and options I want at a higher cost, but lower cost is supposed to be a benefit of using a cloud-based solution. I’m not talking “cheap-as-chips” but I also am not looking for a cloud-or-bust approach. I think it’s fair to say that there are additional issues that have to be considered when moving into the cloud, that aren’t as big a concern if you’re choosing between two (or more) locally installed solutions.
I have written before about this, and it’s not just data migration issues that give me reason to pause. We are a small company, and we don’t usually find enterprise class providers willing to negotiate with us. When I’ve asked questions about how eDiscovery requests would be handled, how service failures would be handled, etc. I ether get no answer or a restatement of the standard contract terms. I raised the migration issue because it occurred to me that it was one more thing that would have to be nailed down, and it isn’t something I ever hear the vendors talking about.

08-07-2012 03:45

Working with, and trusting vendors/service providers/partners is an age old problem that existed long before what we currently call “the Cloud" came along.
The short answer always seems to revolve around "you get what you pay for"; if you sign up to a commoditised, cheap-as-chips service, you can expect drama and unwieldy process when you want to move away. Sign up for a (truly) Enterprise class service with all that entails (including high(er) cost) then options to move away will be built in, both contractually and technologically.
I see this as another example of something already existing that is being considered a barrier to “the Cloud” that in actual fact has nothing to do with the Cloud!

07-24-2012 17:35

When considering any storage, whether it's on-premise or in the cloud, the prudent thing to do is consider how, and how often, you can run back-ups of your data. Then, secondly, are these backups in a standard format that can be imported into another system. Third thing to do is check the integrity of backups often. Nothing like thinking you are safe then you go to recover and the data is corrupt for whatever reason. You have to do your own due diligence because it's not likely a vendor will want you to move from their system.