It's hard to complain about this. Google calendar and its calendar sync software are freebies, which means feeling outraged that it doesn't have a freebie for me would be more than a little ungracious. In any event, I found an inexpensive workaround called gSynchit. If you're stuck, all I can tell you is that it seems to be working fine for me.
OK, here's the punchline: The moment you move critical IT infrastructure into the cloud, change management -- the most important IT discipline for maintaining a stable production environment according to ITIL and just about everyone else besides -- becomes impossible.
While my experience with Office 2010 illustrates the point in reverse, it provides illustration nonetheless. Enterprise computing has a lot of moving parts. When you control the moving parts, you can regression test every upgrade to make sure it doesn't break what's currently working.
Move some of those moving parts into the cloud and someone else can decide to upgrade them without consulting or notifying you. This is not hypothetical. As an example, a prominent Web conferencing provider has received numerous complaints for changing its API without notice or documentation not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions.
What can you do about it? Here are two suggestions:
- Be cautious about building anything important on a free service. If you don't pay for it, you have no negotiating leverage. Yes, this does include open source software. I'm not saying ignore everything that's free. I'm saying you should be cautious and choose solutions with a history of stable, professional management.
- Negotiate a requirement that every cloud vendor you work with provide three months' advance notification for all upgrades, along with a test environment available throughout that period for your use so that you can find any compatibility problems and take the necessary steps to fix them.
Move to the cloud and you lose your ability to skip upgrades. That might be a good thing -- at least you won't wake up one day to realize the entire company depends on a piece of technology that was sold by a vendor that went out of business a decade ago.
Since you can't skip upgrades, though, you'd better be in a position to make sure they don't break your company when they happen.
This story, "Exploring cloud computing? Say good-bye to version control," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bob Lewis's Advice Line blog on InfoWorld.com.