A rant about (enterprise) software in the cloud

Disclaimer

I’m a huge fan of yammer. Fantastic service. Clean UI. Love it. iPhone and desktop clients. We use it everyday in our little corner of the universe. If you’re not using it within your enterprise, make sure to check it out. It’s fantastic. As far as our set-up and user count is concerned, yes, I know that I’m arguing from the point of a rather small business.

Internalized the disclaimer? No? Read it again. Did you get it? Good.

Confession

Todays outage of yammer pushed me over the edge. I have to confess: I hate strongly dislike enterprise software in the cloud. There are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of users hammering the system at all time. Don’t tell me that this is improving the odds of a stable system. If you’re paranoid (I’m not), you smell privacy issues. If the system goes down, you’re hosed. You can’t do anything except frantically pressing “Refresh” in your browser of choice. Or check Twitter. Or blog. Generally speaking: Do anything but get work done. It will get even worse if your external internet connection goes down the drain because the caterpillar driver from the construction site next door had a bad hair day.

Compare this with our internal installation of JIRA. Enterprise software. Quite pricey (as far as I am concerned). We plunked down $2000+ for the license plus $2000 / year for a support/update contract (which I can cancel at any time and still run the software as is). But worth every penny (or cent, depending on where you live). And it’s running within our firewall. On a mac mini. It is running flawlessly with about 10 users on-site and 15 users on two external sites accessing it basically 24/7 (plus 120+ not-so-frequent users), 18500+ issues. Our software development group lives within JIRA. Did I mention it’s running within our firewall? And it’s fast. Plus, it’s backing up the database three times a day. Plus backing up the whole system to a bootable disk at night. In four years, the system was down once for about 4 hours, because we somehow managed to insert a 4MB unparsable piece of crap into an issue which caused memory overflows on the server. Lesson learned. Don’t insert crap into an issue comment.

If the server (yup, it’s a mac mini) goes down in flames, I will get hit with a rolled-up newspaper immediately because nobody will be able to get any work done. I will run into the server room, murmur a few expletives of my choice, take the nightly backup disk, put the latest database backup on it, confiscate any mac in our office, plug in the backup disk, boot from it and JIRA is back up for all our users. Net time for this stunt? About 10 minutes. If I refrain from cursing, it’s more like 7 minutes.

I then trash the faulty mac mini, get a new one from the store nearby for $500, do the same stunt again, and we’re fine again.

Summary

Traditional IT isn’t that bad. If we f$%& up, it’s our fault. If we messed up the set-up, it’s our fault. But we’re in control. If I have a bad hair day, I can do something about it.

Tune in next week when you’ll hear Dr. Bob say “I feel a rant about software as a service pricing coming on…”.

Thanks for listening. Ah, I feel better now. I should try to get some work done.