With the news on Friday that Microsoft have cancelled EBS 2008, it gives me pause to think. Let’s look at this from an alternate perspective.
This is now the 2nd time in 10 years that Microsoft has decided to leave the Medium business market without a clear vision for direction. The last was back in 2001 when Microsoft killed the BackOffice product line which was focused on the mid market space. Sure it was not as well designed as EBS, but they decided back then that maybe the Medium business space could deal with the normal products, and pay normal prices… So it’s happened again – this time in 2010.
The only real reason Microsoft is giving for this is “The Cloud…”.
You know – I’m not against change at all, I’ve been involved in IT for over 30 years now and accepting change is a reality that we live in – in fact it is the only constant in the industry. Having said that however, I do have some deep concerns for Cloud computing that I feel are really being glossed over by many including Microsoft.
Let’s look at how it sits in Australia as one example.
Currently BPOS – Microsoft biggest Cloud computing “product” is ONLY available via Telstra – our largest and monopolistic Telco. So in order to sell BPOS, you need to deal with Telstra. Telstra is also the organisation that owns the majority of the communications infrastructure in Australia and their pricing is insanely expensive for what you get.
The data centre for all BPOS in Australia is not even located on our soil. It is in fact located in Singapore – yes – thats right, the data that you have in your BPOS account in Australia actually falls under the laws of the Singapore government. I talked to Microsoft about this back before BPOS was launched and I was told that “it’s unlikely that Telstra will host this in Australia…”
In the USA – they have the Patriot Act which allows the US government to seize and control access to information held on computers on it’s soil if suspected involvement in terrorism. I have no idea if Singapore has laws like this. I have no idea what Singapore laws might consider is illegal vs Australian laws. I do know that chewing gum is or was illegal in Singapore at one point and that you could get thrown in jail for having it – therefore what else is different that might cause YOUR data to be at risk. My point being, is that you just don’t know. That is a risk to you and your business if you choose this as a solution.
Let’s look at another factor in it. With on premise solutions, a building fire or flood would knock out that business and it’s data and that is devastating for that business. In a Cloud computing scenario, what happens to not only YOUR business, but a heap of other business’s in the event that the data centre has a fire or gets flooded? Couldn’t happen could it? Well it did happen in Melbourne this last week. What is the economic impact to not only ONE business, but ALL those hosted in this data centre?
I’m not against Cloud computing at all – in fact this website is hosted on virtualised servers that run in a data centre I’ve never been to visit and is a cloud offering. What I am against however is the marketing of many that the Cloud will cure all the business problems we have and that there is no risk at all in it. Certainly that is not true. Certainly that is NOT the reason to kill a product like EBS that I feel held such great potential.