Cloud Complaints: Who’s Responsible When Things Go Wrong?

When the cloud fails to deliver, who gets the blame? The vendor? The client? The MSP? In this post we take a look at how each group is (sometimes) at fault.

December 23, 2013

3 Min Read
Cloud Complaints: Who’s Responsible When Things Go Wrong?

By Michael Brown 1

Nothing is foolproof in the realm of cloud-based file sharing – things are bound to go wrong at some point. Maybe there’s a prolonged outage. Maybe there’s a security breach. Maybe a company is found to be in non-compliance with HIPAA or some other regulation. But when something goes wrong, who falls on the proverbial sword? The client? The cloud provider? You?

That answer depends on who you ask. A recent panel of government CIOs wants to blame the outsourced providers (MSPs, that’s you). A writer for InfoWorld puts the responsibility on the clients themselves. Most people would blame the cloud vendor.

Of course, nothing is ever black and white in this regard. Depending on the situation, everyone could be to blame. In other instances, it might not be anyone’s fault. But for the sake of this blog post, we’re going to assume that everyone is at fault – there’s plenty of blame to go around! – so let’s take a look at each group.

It’s the client’s fault.

Blaming the client, as you know, rarely pays off for MSPs. But according to David Linthicum of InfoWorld, a bad cloud experience can often be pinned on the client (specifically, CIOs). He writes:

Still, it's not the cloud providers' fault that they are offering such poorly defined and designed services. It's your fault for not testing and understanding those cloud offerings before you deployed that cloud. Although this effort is hard, costly, and no fun, you have to dial that work into the process of moving to the cloud….you can get into trouble when you go to providers, particularly in the government market, that have made minor changes to existing products to provide a cloud offering. If you select those products, there are major limitations you have to discover ahead of time.

So, CIOs, if you're not doing your homework, stop complaining. It's on you to ask the questions and test the technology. If you don't buy it, the vendors won't sell it for long.

Tough love, but he has a point: If companies have unrealistic expectations of the cloud, they will be disappointed and label the entire project a failure. MSPs, make sure you are setting the right expectations with your clients.

It’s the cloud vendor’s fault.

The easiest target, of course, is the actual cloud vendor. Gary Sterrenberg, CIO at the Department of Human Services (DHS), was quick to point out their shortcomings in a recent interview, where he said:

“If you lose an identity, you can be sued for millions. So is the cloud vendor prepared to take accountability for the lawsuit that will come? We are trying to work with industry to say to be feasible as a capability for government … it has to be a different relationship, and until the vendors are bold enough to go there, we are going to be stuck with limiting our access to this potential capability [using cloud services] to external websites and limited commodity-type stuff.”

Liability is a tough issue for many companies, but it’s fair to say that most cloud vendors are very upfront in their SLAs as to who is liable for what. If they aren’t, then Strerrenberg is correct in that one would want to limit (or refrain from) use of their service.

It’s the MSPs fault.

A quick show of hands: How many MSPs haven’t been blamed for a poor cloud experience? Let the record show that no MSP raised their hands. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s going to.  You’ll be blamed when the cloud solution fails or doesn’t live up to expectations. Sometimes, this blame is deserved; perhaps you didn’t deploy a cloud-based file solution in a timely manner or maybe you deployed a solution that didn’t meet their specific requirements. The important things to remember is that it’s all about understanding the client’s needs. Without this understanding, you’ll end up delivering the right service for the wrong problem.

Who do YOU blame when the cloud under-delivers? Be sure to let us know in the comments sections below.

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