WhiteCoat

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has a lot of benefits.

By having your information stored on someone else’s servers and accessible online, you have access to that information anywhere that you have an internet connection.

We are currently using Google Calendar for the scheduling of our group. It comes in handy because putting information onto the calendar is relatively simple and because we don’t have to send the schedule and all of the updates to everyone every time there is a schedule change. Updates are instantaneous and everyone in the group in addition to the hospital administrators have the address to the calendar, so all anyone has to do is check online to see the most recent version of the calendar.

If you use Google Calendar for your personal events, you can easily integrate your home and work calendars which is also very handy for spotting conflicts and free time. Google Calendar also integrates with smart phones so that you can pull calendar updates to your phone as soon as they’re online.

There’s one big problem with cloud computing, though. Someone else has the ultimate control of the data. If the storage owner takes the data offline or loses the data, you can’t get it back.

In Google Calendar’s case, if you live your life on the cloud, you risk the chance of losing everything if the cloud vanishes.

That’s just what happened to our group.

I woke up one morning and found out that our clinic schedule was no longer available. I wrote to others in our group and no one else could access our calendar, either. Two years of schedules vanished. No one knew who was supposed to be working the following month.

Google didn’t have a contact number for help correcting the issue. We wrote them several times at their designated contact page and got no response. So we had to try to reconstruct all of the information from old time sheets. Fortunately those are on our computers.

See here for a two year old thread of 150+ comments discussing the issue of disappearing calendars with one lackluster response from Google. Many more “missing data” threads are on the site with very few responses from Google.

I’m a little miffed about losing our schedules, but you get what you pay for.

So the purpose of the post is to let your know that your cloud data isn’t always as “safe” as you think and to recommend that you back up your cloud data on a regular basis just in case the sun comes out and evaporates your information.

14 Responses to “Cloud Computing”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Steve, Cloud Blogs. Cloud Blogs said: #Cloud #Blogs Cloud Computing | WhiteCoat's Call Room: Cloud computing has a lot of benefits. By having you… http://bit.ly/bYK5rC #TCN [...]

  2. Nuclear Fire says:

    Where you using Google Calendar via a generic Google Accounts or via Google Apps?

  3. Adders says:

    If you’re using it for something business critical like that, Google Apps is really where it’s at. $50/user/year, plus you have telephone and email support in case something goes awry.

  4. Mat says:

    If you were using Apps Enterprise, you’d get dedicated support. If you’re using the personal or Apps For Your Domain products, you’re SOL.

  5. Clayton says:

    As they’ve said above, you really don’t want to use the Free Personal Google Calendar for that sort of thing. Google is much more accountable to those who have purchased Google Apps/Enterprise.

  6. SeaSpray says:

    That is beyond frustrating! I am sorry that happened to you and your group. :(

  7. Doc99 says:

    First law of thermodynamics – You can’t get more than what you pay for.

    Second law – You rarely get your money’s worth.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I definitely don’t trust the cloud one bit. I’ve used Google Sites a few times for collaborative project organization, but for the most part I’d rather keep everything local where I don’t have to rely on needing an internet connection or worry about the cloud randomly going awry.

    PS – Why didn’t you guys just do regular exports of your Calendar stuff in case the crap hits the fan, like it did?

    • WhiteCoat says:

      Didn’t do the regular exports because I trusted the cloud. My mistake.
      I do regular backups of my data now – including contacts as well.

  9. ChuckInMI says:

    I’m sorry this happened to you. I hope you learned you shouldn’t keep mission critical data on a free server.

  10. rlbates says:

    Any chance someone in the group had been syncing it to their smart phone calendar?

    • WhiteCoat says:

      They were, but when the data was lost from the server, the update deleted the data from the phones, too. Doesn’t take very long. :-/

  11. joldie_microsoft_smb says:

    Something else to mention about Google Apps SLA’s is that anything less than ten minutes of downtime is not included – no matter how many times a month it happens.

    Take a look the whitepaper, “Learn about five areas to consider before you rely on Google Apps for your business” for more info: http://smb.ms/cYNFrJ (Send me a request and I’ll e-mail the whitepaper directly).

    Regards,
    Jodi E.
    Microsoft SMB Outreach Team
    msftoft@microsoft.com

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