Beware of Web Services!

Cursor pointer pointing at cracksLike many people, I love trying out new services on the web. Some of them are really cool and offer simple ways to integrate them into your website. So, we plug them in and forget about them. At least we forget about them until the web service goes down or closes up shop and disappears. Then we end up with a gaping hole in functionality somewhere in our website where we once had a really cool feature that we were relying on.

I’m not a cloud naysayer, but the reality that a service going down or out of business can put something that you built around that service in jeopardy, is a reality. That’s why I prefer software that I can install on my own server (or a cloud server) and then maintain myself. Then, as long as I pay to have the software hosted on a server somewhere, I can continue to run it until it isn’t compatible with something else I’ve installed. So, that is always my preference.

If running the software on my own server isn’t an option, then I weigh the importance of the feature and my perceived reliability of the company providing it. For example, when it comes to hosting an application for my customers, I don’t want to put my website on the servers of some startup that has been around for a year. I would prefer to host my website on Amazon or Rackspace. Those are large companies with good reputations. Plus, they have a lot of money and customers, so they are unlikely to go anywhere or to have their services shut down if another company manages to acquire them.

Now, if the feature that the web service provides isn’t critical and would be easy to remove from my site if it broke, then I might well install it. At that point, I’m just experimenting and having some fun. I’m probably hoping that the service survives, but if it doesn’t, I won’t have a tremendous amount of work dealing with the ramifications if it closes down. Entrepreneurs are busy people. Who wants to waste time cleaning up a mess caused by some other company when you could be working on your own product? Minimize your exposure to those types of services and build a stable foundation for your business. Just because a service is cool, doesn’t mean you should use it.

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