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In the Cloud the App Is Free, But That Bucket of Nuts Will Cost You

My kids and a bucket of nuts acted out a good allegory for enterprise IT and user cloud provisioning

This week my kids and a bucket of nuts acted out a good allegory for enterprise IT and user cloud provisioning - a cautionary tale. It started with a call from our bank letting us know that our credit card was under suspicion of fraud. Apparently, $134.26 worth of iTunes store activity had been charged to our account in the past 24 hours.

The bank had correctly guessed that these purchases were news to us, with ‘us' being the adults in the house. And, if not news to each one of the five kids we call ‘ours,' it was also nothing any of them felt like claiming. One family meeting down left us all without a volunteer to claim the shopping spree.

But the truth has a way of finding daylight and the mystery shopper's identity began to emerge.

Without naming any names here, let's just say the purchases were made from our (adult) iPad by an application called "Tiny Pets." Of course, the app is FREE, but apparently a bag of nuts is NOT - a sad fact of life in a world filled with so many hungry tiny pets. So it was that, at $19.99 per bucket of nuts, the free app quickly rang the iTunes debit bell.

Explaining to a 7 year old that the app is "free" but nuts cost money was awkward at best. (Note to parents: This clever bit of automation is called an ‘in-app purchase' which, although configurable, is enabled by default.)

Clearly our family had moved to the cloud. But we had done so without giving a thought to any of the ramifications of this move. We had simply moved across the continuum from Cloud what? ... to Cloud who? ... to what does this mean to me and how do I use it? ... to cloud,  uh oh, what now?

Lesson learned: Cloud access from home or the enterprise requires control, visibility and governance. But I have talked with many organizations where developers regularly bypass IT to jump on AWS, and line-of-business managers grab app instances. They expense the cloud use or back stop their usage with the corporate card. All good?

My story had a happy ending by way of an email from Apple that stated:

I understand that the purchases of Apps were unintentional. In five to seven business days, a credit of $134.26, should be posted to the credit card that appears on the receipt for that purchase. Please note that this is a one-time exception, as the iTunes Store Terms and Conditions state that all sales are final.

Granted, there are not many 7 years olds using the cloud in the enterprise. But I am sure that many companies can tell their own stories about cloud usage that has come off the rails and cost a lot more than planned. Do you think your local cloud provider has an unintended usage refund like Apple?

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me at @gregoryjoconnor

Register to attend: "The Elastic Enterprise: Cloud hopping made simple for apps on the move" The elastic enterprise exploits the advantages of cloud by moving existing (legacy) enterprise applications; once, twice ... to, from, and across clouds (private and public, federated and hybrid) with agility and efficiency.  Join CEOs, Greg O'Connor (AppZero) and Pat Kerpan (CohesiveFT) as they show cloud interoperability by moving an application to and from multiple clouds.  Learn how to provision enterprise applications and server topologies as quickly and easily as an app store. Join us on Thursday, Dec 8th @ 1pm EDT  Register now>>

More Stories By Greg O'Connor

Greg O'Connor is President & CEO of AppZero. Pioneering the Virtual Application Appliance approach to simplifying application-lifecycle management, he is responsible for translating Appzero's vision into strategic business objectives and financial results.

O'Connor has over 25 years of management and technical experience in the computer industry. He was founder and president of Sonic Software, acquired in 2005 by Progress Software (PRGS). There he grew the company from concept to over $40 million in revenue.

At Sonic, he evangelized and created the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) product category, which is generally accepted today as the foundation for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Follow him on Twitter @gregoryjoconnor.

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