Written by: Daniel Haurey on 03/01/16


Chances are good, very good in fact, that your trusted managed IT services provider has steered your small or mid-size business toward cloud services. That’s a smart move, perhaps even saving you money while providing the scalability and reliability you need to support the critical software applications that run your business. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of small businesses now conduct back office work including bookkeeping and accounting via services residing in the cloud, according to Forbes.

But did that trusted IT adviser sell you their cloud, or just a cloud, acting as a broker or middleman between your small business and a big public cloud service like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure? Odds are good you won’t know, at least not until an IT service interruption inevitably occurs.

Transparency is one of our fundamental values as a company.  We can only speak for ourselves, so I can tell you that we (EXIGENT) own and operate all of our own cloud equipment (servers, switches, etc.) in our outsourced cloud model, called  TurnKey Cloud.

As with our model, if your IT services company sold you their own cloud – servers and computing power they own and manage hands-on, with a local data center you can go visit for yourself – here is what would happen in the event of a disruption:

  • Your local IT services provider jumps on the issue, putting your needs at the forefront.
  • They keep you informed step by step as they work.
  • They provide a reliable estimate of when you will regain access to those critical applications based on their first-hand knowledge of the situation.

If they resold you a public cloud or other outsourced cloud, their reaction to the same would be considerably different:

  • The provider gets on the phone or logs into a dashboard tool provided by the cloud service.
  • They relay to you what they’re hearing from the provider because they have no real insight into what’s going on.
  • They provide an estimate if they get one, but without a whole lot of certainty about its reliability.

Consider Netflix, who last August switched all of its IT Infrastructure to Amazon Web Services, receiving high-touch, high-priority treatment in the event of an outage, such as when AWS’ huge US-East data center went down on a Sunday morning last September leaving a great many unhappy Netflix customers unable to stream their favorite shows.

When you’re a behemoth like Netflix, Amazon will jump to serve you. But if you’re one of the other thousands of AWS customers without that clout, it’s unlikely you and your IT company are going to receive that priority treatment when downtime hits you.  Studies show that the hard and soft costs associated with IT downtime are much greater than small business owners realize.  This is especially true when you factor in reputation cost.

When we at EXIGENT decided to get into the cloud services business, we knew we couldn’t live with the lack of transparency and control that goes along with merely reselling public cloud services.  So we created our own, purpose-built cloud, investing large sums of money into our own equipment, putting it in a world-class data center with SSAE 16 accreditation.  We wanted to be able to show clients where their cloud-based infrastructure lived and be totally accountable to them for its operation. Business.com recommends that small business owners buying cloud services ask questions about where data will be physically housed and who will have access to the facility, and we agree wholeheartedly!

Make no mistake: Data center reliability is high and getting higher. But IT can and does fail on occasion. When that happens, do you want your trusted IT services adviser fixing the problem and keeping you informed, or waiting for information from some distant mega-provider?