Jan 24

Do You Have Power in the Cloud?


I recently provided this article to the CMIT Solutions of Tacoma blog page.

Having your business network on the cloud is all the rage, and has been for quite some time.  However as we all know, this is not a perfect world in which we live. In the world of technology, even the most miraculous innovations can have a dark side. Much cutting-edge technological advancement has come with intrinsic pitfalls. These pitfalls are usually inherent in the actual hardware and/or software. In the case of cloud technology, the dark side usually comes from the human element providing the cloud technology.

An interesting article was discovered on InfoWorld (http://bit.ly/VyvN9E) pertaining to dangers of public cloud service providers. The author quips, “It used to take a warrant, a sheriff’s deputy, and an axe to chop down your door and stop your business dead”. However shutting your business down cold is much easier for public cloud service providers. If your business relies heavily on a public cloud service provider, your entire business infrastructure could be taken offline without:

  • Judicial review
  • Workable recourse
  • Useful explanation or justification

Your company network could be simply taken offline because a customer, a politician, or a competitor claims there are issues with your – or your customers’ activities.

Oracle’s terms of use for its cloud services were disclosed last week. According to section 5.2:

If Oracle detects violation, or is contacted about a violation of, Oracle Cloud Services terms and conditions or acceptable use policy, Oracle will assign an investigating agent. The investigating agent may take actions including but not limited to suspension of user account access, suspension of administrator account access, or suspension of the environment until the issues are resolved.

Oracle isn’t the only provider with this type of clause. Every cloud provider has similar clauses. For instance, look at excerpts from four well-known providers.

1.)   Microsoft Azure:

We may suspend an online service in whole or in part … if you do not abide by the Acceptable Use Policy section of these Online Services Use Rights or violate other terms of your Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement.

2.)   Rackspace:

We may suspend the Services without liability if: (i) we reasonably believe that the Services are being used (or have been or will be used) in violation of the Agreement

3.)   Amazon Web Services states in section 1.4 of its terms:

… we may remove or disable access to any Prohibited Content without prior notice in connection with illegal content, where the content may disrupt or threaten the Services, pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or as required to comply with law or any judicial, regulatory or other governmental order or request.

4.)   Joyent:

Joyent may terminate or suspend your access to Joyent services at any time and for any reason without notice.

Admittedly, most of these at-our-sole-discretion clauses are wrapped in varying degrees of customer protection. A Rackspace representative explained, “Arbitrarily suspending a customer or treating our customer unfairly would do tremendous damage to our brand and our mission and we go to great lengths to avoid disappointing our customers.” That’s fair; Rackspace went to some effort to explain it would not take arbitrary action.

Amazon and Rackspace make clear in the company’s terms that customers will be notified of issues and provided an opportunity to devise a remedy. Oracle on the other hand refers to an investigating agent with full powers, although there’s no promise of notification. Microsoft claims notification will be provided and take down only the minimum portion of your cloud presence necessary to resolve an issue (although the company has several overlapping policies with differing, less protective terms).

What’s the bottom line? All of these providers use language that ultimately allows the provider to define extreme circumstances in order to pull the plug on your cloud presence. No cloud providers offer arbitration or compensation within the terms and conditions portion of the contract. Furthermore, there are no consequences to cloud providers if service is terminated. You may have a contract or a service-level agreement with penalties for disruptions in service, however the situation is highly likely that the service-level agreement’s terms of use will take precedence over a providers overall terms of use.

In the follow-up article we will look why cloud providers have such an extreme self-preservation stance when it comes to providing service.


Provide B2B and B2C marketing and copy-writing consulting services. • Rewrote all content for Innovative Dream Builders, Inc. website. • Rewrote client-selected content for 21st Century Goods LLC website. • Over 3 month period my blog experienced a 56% increase in visitors. • Rewrote and edited all content for Orion Home Improvements LLC website. • Composed and edited solicitation letters for Graham and Graham LLC.

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