Cloud Choice: Accept “Update Risk”?

You never solve problems, only exchange them for new ones. Usually they’re just new to you, but cloud computing “update risk” actually looks NEW. It’s covered well at the beginning of .Net Rocks! podcast 1255, where Richard Campbell picks up an interesting comment by Jan Tourlamain in relation to Show 1239. I’ve duly added it to Manager’s List of Potential Cloud Computing Risks

The Case Is Altered
Previously of course your code or customisations would run on a software platform "frozen" at the date you bought it. Upgrading to a new version or applying a bug fix would require action. Once you've migrated the application to run in the cloud on platform-as-a-service, those updates are coming – whether you like it or not.

The risk of bugs in software updates is not difficult to understand, but there’s another possibility, probably much rarer but more dangerous. A feature you use in, say, a database service may be deprecated and removed. Now your application is broken and will stay that way until you find the workaround. If it’s important to the company, you also have a big problem, and not just because of the pressure to find the fix.

Career Effects
Unfortunately for you, the cloud provider will have announced well in advance that the feature is going to be removed. From that point, as when NASA spots an asteroid heading for the earth, the disaster was inevitable unless YOU did something about it (and you didn’t).

Is this a reason not to move to the cloud? Unlikely – perhaps your company can tolerate being without the application for a period. Before you migrate you just have to settle with management how much impact downtime will have. Even if it would be quite bad, planning for bugs and feature removal can transform this risk into a benefit.

Consequences
With paid-for software, doing nothing is easy but that doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. Think about the companies still running IIS 6.0 or Microsoft XP. You do need a system to manage these issues in good time. Once you have one, the bonus is that you also find out all the new features that could be useful.

Here are some MS Azure links which may be helpful:

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