Mass Cloud Confusion or Mass Marketing Hypnosis?

Mass Cloud Confusion or Mass Marketing Hypnosis?

Mass Cloud Confusion or Mass Marketing Hypnosis?

I’ve been wanting to write this commentary piece for a long while now, at least a year. It is based solely on personal observation and fact.

Fact: There are more new Web Application Start-ups in existence than at anytime in the history of the Internet

Fact: Social Internet, Cloud Hype & Cheap Hosting & Storage are all key ingredients to this salad.

Fact: There is a LOT of confusion surrounding “Cloud Technology”

Fact: there have been more small business internet startups fail in the last two years than in the history of the Internet

What does it all mean?

I spent 12 years in the Gourmet Restaurant Business prior to my high-tech career of almost 25 years now and this mad rush reminds me of all the times I saw people with a little money who loved good food but knew absolutely nothing about the business opening restaurants which failed within 6 months, almost everyone of them.

Why are Cloud Sartups failing left and right?

Why are Cloud Sartups failing left and right?


That’s the big question. What they did not realize is the restaurant business is probably one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever have. You work weekends and all holidays (they are the biggest money making days bay far). its hugely expensive to stock a restaurant and keep it stocked (including the bar) which means it requires a ton of liquid capital. It is extremely labor heavy which means most people have no idea how many skilled people it takes to run a “gourmet” class kitchen which all translates to lots of hidden expenses and obstacles that outsiders never know about, until its too late.

Like the scenario outlined above, the new “Cloud Rush” (think Gold Rush of 1849) has taken many a wealthy person with an idea by the throat and left them gasping for breath. In other words most have no idea what they are getting into much less what they are doing, sadly to say.

Let me give you an true story as an example. I was speaking with a technology recruiter earlier this year about a startup company (I’m not naming anyone, in order to protect the innocent 🙂 , they were however a new software cloud/SaaS company who, as has become commonplace over the past two years, had no idea what they were looking for in someone to come “Architect their Cloud Strategy” for them. Apparently they just had an idea and hired a bunch of software programmers and then figured they could worry about the actual “cloud infrastructure” details later. Its amazing how many of these there are out there now making the exact same mistake…

So they had a job description which included two very highly specialized career paths, for the same person to handle. Basically a java Software Development executive, someone like a “Director or VP of Software Engineering/Development” and the other side of the coin, the department who’s responsibility it is to design and implement the critical SaaS infrastructure that will be utilizes to deliver the application to the end-user over the internet in a scalable, cost effective and reliable manner. Someone such as a say a hands-on “Director or VP of Cloud or Network Operations”.

Well the reason we were having this discussion in the first place, was that I had been getting bombarded over the past year with these same types of “Cloud Architect” positions and with startups asking us if we could find someone to fill these types of “fairytale” positions which don’t exist. They all came with detailed (3-4 pages) descriptions describing two very distinct roles and a high amount of expertise.

So I started explaining the “facts of life” to the Executive Recruiter in question (who’s name shall also remain anonymous to protect the innocent 🙂 and I started explaining to him about how so many start-ups are buying into the marketing hype and just tossing their complete infrastructure into a public cloud without any executive analysis, intelligence, planning or thoughtful strategic decision being made. Doing it primarily based on emotion which has been stirred up from these Public Cloud Marketing Departments to get people so excited about it that they “just do it” without thinking about it first. The problem is that many of them find out much too late that they made a huge mistake. Like one company we dealt with who called us because their service was hosted with a big Amazo oh excuse me I meant to say an Amazing Large Cloud Public Company, and it went down one day with no warning. It took the “Amazing” hosting company 3 days to even respond to them to let them know what the issue was. THREE DAYS! Can you imagine your internal IT department refusing to tell you anything for three days while all your services were down? No, because like any hosting company, your just a number to the minimum wage part-time college kid they hire to monitor and troubleshoot your server and any issues which arise. So anyway this company lost many customers to say the least and their services was down for more than a week just because of a back-end database issue that was eventually resolved in less than an hour.

One thing I tell all of our clients is this perhaps hard to hear fact of life: “If you outsource any part of your critical business infrastructure to someone else, I don’t care who it is, expect to go down someday, period. Its like riding a motorcycle, if you buy and ride one, you better be prepared to eat gravel at some point because you will go down, its just a matter of when and how long it will take to get back up and riding again.”

The real issues with hosted third party managed solutions

The issues with outsourcing critical infrastructure which MUST be addressed in an intelligent, factual and transparent manner are as follows:

  • Your just a number

    • To the minimum wage college student or intern monitoring the server you’ll be entrusting your business to, your just a number. With over 100,000 servers most Public Managed Hosting Companies have no idea who’s data resides where when an alarm goes off and even if they did do you really think they would care who “Joe Blow Business” is? Think back to when you were 16, 17 or 18 and what your priorities were, girls, games, booze, music, drugs?
    • I don’t care what the hosting company promises you, I’ve been there and done that and have been a part of that world for many years and know exactly how it works. Your issue is second to finishing his/her slice of pizza.
  • There is no Sense Of Urgency

    • Having worked in many start-ups what I love about them is the sense of urgency, the dedication, the hard workers, the employees willing to wear any hat and do whatever it takes to get the job done! It is awesome and awe inspiring and is where the adrenaline rush is for me personally.
      • Now imagine if you were 17 years old, asked to perform the same way for a company you knew nothing about, a company whose name was not anywhere on your paycheck, for which you held no stake (stock) in, had no personal relationship with and could care less about whether they succeeded as a company or not. Would you?
    • Be Honest……..
  • Your HELPLESS to do anything if your business starts to go under

    • Let me tell you of a company who’s services was interrupted for 3 weeks……what do you believe would happen to your customer base if they lost access to the critical data you might be hosting on your application, for three weeks?
    • Let me tell you this happens more than your ever told about
    • Let me tell you that ALL of these incidents are “hushed up” for obvious reasons
    • Now let me tell you that if it happens to you, you can’t drive over and demand that “Amazing” Largest Public Company “fix your service”. Would you even have the faintest idea where your application would be running on a distributed, elastic, global cloud network in order to physically go demand action or ask for it back? It doesn’t work that way, your entire business which you’ve poured your blood sweat, tears and retirement perhaps into is in someone else’s hands completely when you make the strategically critical decision to allow some stranger to host, monitor and respond to your internet application(s) or infrastructure.
      • You signed a waiver to not hold them responsible for “acts of god” which includes loss of your data, so you cannot even sue them and win…
      • Period….
      • End of story……

Those are just the three main problems you need to think about. The list is long and serious such as data backups. I cannot list the number of companies (its too long) who have lost all or much of their data due to improper backup policies by third party hosting companies which are NOTORIOUSLY BAD at backup strategy implementation. Latency, you’ll never know if it is the hosting company or not as they will never let you in their networking equipment to run tests and will ALWAYS blame you, your network or someone or something else rather than admit their network is overloaded and their backbones oversubscribed. The list is long and comprehensive and I advise you to hire someone like our team of experts or someone else you trust to properly analyze your needs and provide you with an intelligent, fact based strategic roadmap you can follow in order to make informed decisions with regards to the future technology concerns of your business.

But I digress…

So here I was explaining to him why it is much safer it is to build a “private cloud” than to throw all your infrastructure blindly or not, onto a “public cloud”, or to perhaps even create a Hybrid strategy where your critical data is still safely in your hands while the less critical parts of your infrastructure is being hosted somewhere in the public cloud when he stops me and says “What do you mean by private cloud”? Isn’t “Amazon the Cloud”?

Needless to say my jaw dropped and I was at a loss for  words for a minute there as a lull developed in our phone conversation. To cut to the chase, this recruiter, who had been recruiting for “Cloud positions” for a year now, had no idea there was anything else BUT Amazon for cloud solution. To him Cloud was Synonymous with the word Amazon and I spent the next hour educating him for which afterward he was extremely grateful.

I guess my point in all of this is this. It burns me to see a few major swindlers selling a fake “Gold Rush” sense of security through Marketing Hype just to make a quick buck, no matter who they hurt in the process or how badly it hurts the whole industry. Hey, this helps my business, so why should I be complaining? I believe in honesty, integrity and transparency in business and basing strategic decisions, or any decision, based on intelligence, factual data and an informed opinion which Marketing Hype is designed to literally destroy by getting people to base their decisions whether strategic or not on “emotion” instead of fact and for this I wont stand and will always speak out against.