Going Both Ways

When we talk about “the cloud” or “cloud computing” our industry is expressing a metaphor used to describe the miasmas of activity that swirls about the Internet every day. Be it children playing online games, the whirlwind of work related email, or even updating a task on your project schedule.

The term was coined in 1996 by two employees of Compaq Computer, although it became more prolific when used by Google executive Eric Schmidt at an industry conference in 2006. Having worked in the high tech industry for 16 plus years, I can tell you that as a whole we are not a very imaginative group of people. So the term means today what it meant in ’96, that is, works done through, or stored on the Internet.

Of course, being a metaphor the term is open to interpretation. For myself I have never really thought the Internet needed to be re-branded. In my day-to-day activities it really only affects me as I struggle to balance security in online computing.

Today so much of our work is done with the cloud; be it sales records, project schedules, and even electronic health records. When you are talking about security in cloud computing it comes down to a simple choice public cloud services vs. private cloud services.

For me when I think about public cloud services it is hard not to imagine Edward Snowden huddled in the unforgiving snows of Russia whispering about everything stored in the private corners of the Internet. The choice then is obvious—private cloud services—but this has the drawback of added expense for configuration and maintenance.

As an industry I think it is important to ask ourselves, “How much would it cost if we got hacked?” Think of everything you do on the Internet each day, and then ask yourself: “What would happen if all of it suddenly got released to the world?”

Private networks are the most secure and therefore the most feasible for me as a project coordinator, but there are perks to using public cloud services, for one they can be cheaper. What isn’t, when someone else is doing the lion’s share of the operations?  If you are experiencing a data overload, you might think the public may be the way to go. You might think to yourself pushing less private information to the public cloud could make your private network quicker, leaner and cost less.

In my opinion the solution is going both ways: a combination of internal and private cloud computing services which can make your business more efficient and cost effective. A great example of optimized systems is EPMA’s private cloud. Their architecture includes a private network for secure files and schedules, which can be connected to your internal network for storage and development. This type of split infrastructure keeps your project schedules secure until release and working at peak efficiency until moved to a public or internal network for use.

Navigating the cloud and using cloud computing is not easy. If it were companies would have no need for IT departments. As a project manager it is imperative to have an understanding of cloud computing as it was in 1996, and remember that vision was a bleeding-edge concept then. Today it is the way we do business, efficiently and in the most cost effective way possible.
Always keep in mind it is called the cloud for a reason, because ultimately it is an ever evolving environment, and our understanding and use of evolves with the times. If it were simple we would have re-branded it as “the road.”

The difference between public and private cloud computing services is a simple place to start, but a vital piece to understand for project managers and executives working in the cloud today. As we step further into the future and more of our work is done in the cloud it helps to keep in mind: “Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing it does not necessarily follow that we must do that thing.” – Federation President, Star Trek VI