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Cloud Services And The Hidden Cost Of Downtime

As any networking professional knows, downtime costs money. However, few know exactly how much money downtime costs. Estimates, calculations, and incidentals are all open to interpretation. This creates a lot of uncertainty.

Cloud computing is a good tool to use here. Many IT pros are turning to cloud-based technologies to mitigate the cost of downtime. However, is the viability of a cloud migration backed by facts or based on suppositions?

The assumption that cloud services can reduce downtime is founded on the belief that third-party providers deploy all sorts of continuity technology that all but guarantees uptime. That belief, coupled with service-level agreements (SLAs) that make promises about limiting unscheduled interruptions in service, can give you a sense of security. The real question becomes whether that sense of security is false or justified -- and, more importantly, whether a value can be assigned to it.

To determine that, one has to delve into some complex calculations to reveal the true operational costs of the cloud -- how much it costs when it works and how much it costs when it doesn't. Those costs have to compared to an equal scenario for non-cloud services. Of course, operational costs and intangibles also must be taken into account.

For example, IT operations have to take into account the costs of a facility, the staff, and everything surrounding it and then correlate the value the facility offers to the enterprise. That's a very complex calculation. On the other hand, a cloud service can be calculated down to the fees charged and any related incidentals: internal support staff, connectivity, etc. Though it seems simpler to calculate the cost of the cloud, the numbers can be easily skewed by overlooked elements, contractual price changes, changes in scale, and so on.

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