Coghead Failure Highlights Risks Of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is growing, with Google now monetizing its App Engine. But no matter what the vendor, customers should have a good emergency-exit strategy.
It's that type of low-cost payment structure that attracted Davis to Coghead. He's been an Intuit QuickBase customer for a while and still is, but Coghead was a little cheaper, starting at about $10 a month per seat.

"There's all kinds of reasons why a platform as a service is valuable, and that doesn't change because Coghead fell apart," Davis said. "If people want a low-cost way to deploy apps all over the world, then a Web-based database is the absolute best choice."

QuickBase accounted for just a portion of Intuit's $3.1 billion in revenue last year, but the company has customers big and small for it, said Intuit VP Bill Lucchini, including Affinity Health Care, with 15,000 seats, and another large company, with 50,000 seats. When it comes to SaaS, PaaS, or anything related, "a proven vendor is your first line of defense here," reasoned Lucchini. "You must choose vendors that are stable."

If a customer wanted to move its data from QuickBase to something else, Lucchini said, they can use QuickBase Desktop, which he described as providing a Microsoft Access replica of a customer's data. Some customers currently use it for backup or to work offline; it synchronizes with QuickBase when back online, he said.

The promise of cloud computing has launched many PaaS startups: Caspio, LongJump, TeamDesk, Wolf Frameworks, and PerfectForms are among them. It would be unfair to link them to Coghead just because they're startups, as some of them may grow into huge success stories. Still, others will not. And with any cloud computing effort, it's up to users to have an emergency exit strategy in place. Just in case.

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