Tue, Apr
0 New Articles

Protecting the Business with Smart Cloud Choices

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Before reading the end of this article, someone will seriously ponder if they could market gluten-free cloud servers.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a colleague at another company who had a major virus headache. From what they could gather, a user opened a zip file from an email that turned out to be a fantastic cryptolocker variant. First, it managed to encrypt everything on that user’s laptop, and then it proceeded to lock down files on every shared drive on which the user had write access. And did it ever.

The IT staff were able to restore the shared drives from the nightly backup, but they couldn’t do much about the laptop. Good news is that the user backed up most things to the shared drives. The backup was from the night before, so about three hours’ worth of working day data was lost. It was spreadsheets and documents mostly, not transactional data. The good thing is that the restore took only about 30 minutes to perform because the backup writes it to disk first, then tape. The user laptop was wiped, and users were inconvenienced for three hours. The whole event took less than two hours to repair, from initial complaints of encrypted files to a restore resolution.

Now, here’s where IT gets the question from management: “Would we have had this issue if it was in the cloud?”

If what was in the cloud? The data? The backup?

Somewhere in this line of questioning lies a fundamental misunderstanding of what “the cloud” really is.

The cloud can be many things. The concept of a service bureau? Sure. That’s cloud. It’s just people in the cloud. So in that regard the cloud is just a cubicle somewhere where you’re not paying the heat, lights, water, and insurance.

Cloud-based email or storage? Email or storage running on servers you don’t own. Simple.

What about cloud-based backup? Many different things. You could be backing up on-premises storage to hosted storage. You could be paying for a virtual machine (on-premises but with a cloud labelI won’t name the vendors) that you use for backup. Or you could be putting all storage in the cloud and relying on the cloud vendor to back it up. Or you back it up to another service. Or your on-premises server!

Cloud is so blurred because it’s received so much marketing. Every major software vendor has a cloud offering now. It’s like gluten-free products. Do you really know whether you shouldn’t eat gluten? Unless you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, gluten is perfectly fine to eat. In fact, processed gluten-free food is worse for you if you don’t have a gluten allergy because it contains increased salt, fats, and sugars. But gluten-free dog food is real. So are gluten-free diets. And if you really want to see a fad in action, look for gluten-free water. I’m not saying gluten-free products don’t have a place, as they certainly do. What I’m saying is we are all influenced by trends and marketing. So much in fact that there’s a viable niche in the marketplace where some company is selling gluten-free water. The key is to separate the facts from the noise. If you can do that, you’ll be able to use cloud effectively and to its biggest advantage.

It’s the overhead that cloud providers want to save you money on. The coffee in the lunch room, the staples, the salaries, the printers, and the real estate. It’s all overhead to run a business, and that’s fair game. If you can reduce staff and related office expenses, that will be part of your cloud return on investment...if you make the right, informed cloud choices.

Cloud vendors want to be the less-expensive alternative to what you’re currently doing. But it isn’t black and white. And it isn’t always less expensive. And it certainly is not the silver bullet for business that some make it out to be.

Back to the clarified question at hand: Would that company have had the virus issue if the file servers were in the cloud?

Are cloud servers susceptible to viruses? Certainly.

Do cloud providers back up their data? Many, if not most do.

How fast is the estimated restore time in the average cloud provider’s Service Level Agreement? I’ve seen various, from a couple hours to a week.

Will a cloud provider give the level of service that the aforementioned IT staff provided? Some might, but if they called a major host, I bet they’d still be on the phone five hours later. From my experience, the smaller the host, the better the response. In this case, if you have a cloud storage vendor who gets you a full point-in-time restore within two hours of asking, then give yourself a pat on the back. But I bet you pay through the nose for that privilege.

All things being equal, it’s time to deal with a number of cloud myths.

Myth #1: The cloud is more secure than on-premises.

The security of any system, service, or server on any piece of hardwarewhether it’s stored in a cloud data center or in a small business wiring closetis entirely reliant on many factors, one of which is the humans who created and manage (or mismanage) them. Society pivots on the ingenuity of a few. Almost 500 years ago, Nicolaus Copernicus hypothesized that the Earth was not at the center of the universe but was instead a planet revolving around the sun. For millennia, the former argument was taken as truth. We take the validity of arguments for granted until someone sees the weakness in them. No matter how much we all believe something is true, it’s not until we’re proven wrong that we can move forward stronger. The same goes for security, but at a far more rapid pace. Somewhere, against some system, somebody is working out how to take advantage of the human error in a security system. And no matter where it is, it’s being attacked right now.

Myth #2: “The cloud” is less expensive.

Again. That depends.

I could tell you about a very expensive cloud solution I pulled out of the cloud last year because the cloud provider didn’t have a fundamental understanding of general computing, software licensing, and partitioning, but that story is for another article. In short, we were talking a six-figure solution if we stayed in the cloud and a closer-to-four-figure solution by bringing it in-house and rolling up our sleeves. That’s an anomaly and more of an anecdote than a real example; however, it is 100% true.

That’s not to say cloud can’t be less expensive. The trick is finding a solution that makes sense. In fact, I’m about to pull the trigger on a deal right now that would cut one of our software spends by about 33% by taking advantage of a cloud service.

Myth #3: Everyone is going to “the cloud.”

I almost don’t even want to mention this one. It’s marketing hype. Nothing more. But people believe the hype. More importantly, some people who may not know much about technology but make major corporate decisions believe the hype. And we do hear that everyone is going to the cloud from people who are either not fully informed or are trying to sell it. That’s why it’s important to address.

Everyone is doing BYOD, right? Just as much as steampunk was a major fashion movement. While interesting concepts, both never really took off.

To sum up: Not everyone is going to the cloud. Period. Full stop.


Everyone must be evaluating what services should be in the cloud. Some choose none. Some may in fact choose all. The intelligent majority will pick and choose their spots where it fits appropriately. The key is to ensure that the people who make these decisions are informed on the true cost of on-premises versus cloud for each and every service.

We need to be informing our user bases and decision-makers so they at least have a rudimentary understanding of technical topics that will contribute to the successes and struggles of any company. Cloud computing, mobility, and security are tops on my little list. When users know the rules of the road, we don’t have to pull the tow truck out all that often.

And for the love of gluten-free water, we must make sure our users know to never open a zip file from someone they don’t know.

Steve Pitcher
Steve Pitcher works with iTech Solutions, an IBM Premier Business Partner. He is a specialist in IBM i and IBM Power Systems solutions since 2001. Feel free to contact him directly This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: