Businesses that want to take advantage of the maturing cloud marketplace in 2012 can learn from some common mistakes others have made when moving to infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service offerings, experts said.
One of the most common errors companies make when moving to cloud services is failing to set up redundancies for disaster scenarios.
"One thing people assume is if you spin up a cloud server on Rackspace or Amazon, that that cloud server is somehow redundant or backed up somewhere else. An individual cloud server on its own is not redundant or backed up," said John Engates, CTO at Rackspace.
Researchers at Forrester call this "the uneven handshake" -- between the services cloud providers offer and the responsibilities left to the customer -- and say it extends beyond disaster recovery. Developers, who are commonly the people in an organization who start using these kinds of cloud services, "often assume that the cloud service takes care of security, application availability, backup and recovery, and ensuring service performance," Forrester analysts wrote in a recent report. "In most cases this isn't true."
It's possible that companies might think that they can save more money by skipping the redundancy plan, but that involves ignoring standard best practices, said Vince DiMemmo, general manager of cloud computing for Equinix.
"Some people are so focused on cost it's like they're putting blinders on to some best practices. Sooner or later they're going to get burned," he said.
Some cloud users did get burned this year. "Thousands" of enterprise apps and a number of startup companies went dark for 24 to 48 hours earlier in the year during an Amazon outage, Forrester wrote.
"It is indeed one of the pitfalls we see, is customers don't always design for that powerful resilient architecture," said Adam Selipsky, vice president of Amazon Web Services. Cloud services like Amazon's are designed so that individual low-cost components can fail but the system routes around the failures to avoid service interruption. But not all customers are designing their implementations to take advantage of that architecture, he said.
In addition, users don't always accommodate for data center failures. Amazon makes available extensive materials to help customers architect their systems so that they are load balanced, shifting workloads to different zones in the event of an outage, he said.
Other service providers are also responding to the fact that some users aren't properly architecting their implementations by offering new services and features.
"We've started to offer a great deal of services around the cloud so people don't have to do it themselves," Rackspace's Engates said.
Amazon has been continuously adding new enterprise capabilities and has "increased its enterprise readiness through better security and monitoring features and the release of operational audits and certifications," Forrester said.
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