The Cloud Is Not Scary

You may have read that “the cloud” is a scary place, that accessing your systems over The Internet cannot be trusted, or that only by having all of your data “in house” can you be safe.  None of this is true.

First, let’s talk frankly about what “the cloud” means. It means, essentially, nothing. It simply means using someone else’s resources, across the Internet, for your systems. That’s all. Whether it is safe or unsafe has nothing to do with it being “the cloud” or anything of the sort, and anyone telling you that it does thinks that you’ll want to buy some ocean front property in Arizona, too.  What makes “the cloud” safe or unsafe is the vendors that you choose – which is why we should always talk about our options in reference to specific vendors, not “the cloud” as a concept, because that means nothing. That’s a fear mongering technique that is commonly used to try to elicit an emotional reaction, rather than a logical one, to using vendor resources.

Next, let’s talk about the security of your own IT team.  We have to be honest here, your internal IT team has very few resources for security and resiliency, they can’t afford the tools, the training, the systems, the insurance.  At best, small business in house IT will “try hard” at security, and some might do well, but “well” is relative and even the best medium sized business cannot even begin to approach the security of the big enterprise cloud providers like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and so forth.

Believing that it is possible for small in house IT teams to compete, let alone exceed, the security of the big vendors is hubris and hubris is a very dangerous thing when it comes to security. In fact, what should be feared most is the small business IT team that feels that they could make such a boast. These are the teams most likely to put your company at risk because they aren’t approaching security rationally, but rather emotionally.

There are many good reasons to consider running your IT systems in house on your own servers, but security is not one of them. Deciding between “the cloud” and in house systems is one of features, cost, performance, or flexibility; but if security was the determining factor you would be hosted on “the cloud” every single time.

Beware of Writing Your Own Software

The idea of writing your own software for your business comes with a lot of appealing features: you control the cost, you define the features, you own it and can do what you want with it.  On the surface, it sounds great.  And it can be.  But the cost of producing your own software for internal use can be far higher than it appears when you begin and it comes with loads of risks that often don’t get realized for a very long time; not until it is too late.

First we have to consider expertise.  Very few companies, even those that write software regularly, have the necessary expertise to do so efficiently.  Good software requires many different skill sets, not just code writing.  You will generally need several people for even a small project.  This can be expensive at best, and nearly impossible to acquire at worst.

Second is support.  This is the biggest problem that businesses face when writing their own software.  The first problem, of being too expensive or lacking resources is easy to discover before money is spent, but support is a costly issue that can affect you potentially years after the initial development has been completed.  Support is needed only after software is made; so often comes as a surprise to companies that have not planned well for it.  Support, unlike initial development, will go on, to some degree, for the life of the software so can easily become the larger expense.  Support does not just mean running the software, deploying it, or training users; support includes keeping the software up to date, fixing bugs, adding features, patching it for security, altering it to adapt to changes over time, and so forth.

Software is a living thing that needs constant attention to remain functional and secure.  Software that is not maintained properly takes on risk and hidden costs.  It is very common for companies to become entrenched in old software that has become so expensive to maintain that fixing or updating it would be more costly than starting over; but starting over is risky and expensive leaving companies between a rock and a hard place of being forced into big spending just to keep operating.


A New Website

Being a company more than a decade old one expects us to have migrated through a number of major website changes over that time.  As we speak we are currently working on the fifth complete website overhaul for the main NTG website.  Hard to believe that so much time has past.  It is with fond memories that we look back over the years and think about all of the web design and company changes that have taken place during that time.  We have come a long way over the years and we are excited to be looking forward to the future.