Jul 02, 2012

Do the service outages caused by recent storms damage confidence in the Cloud?

Much to my dismay, as a result of the severe storms that rolled across much of the eastern US on Friday, I had to briefly postpone my romantic weekly "Miller-Time and Anime on Netflix" viewing date. So instead of enjoying some doe-eyed ultraviolence, my beloved and I had to actually TALK to each other?!? Weird.

No big deal, obviously, in reality. My actual concern is that we use Amazon cloud services where I work, and publicize this fact to our customers. I'm not sure how many of them are (1) aware of the outages that happened over the weekend, and (2) remember that we are depending on Amazon's data centers just like Pinterest, Netflix, et al do. Do events like this have an impact on confidence in the reliability of cloud services, or do most companies understand that even very good up-time does not mean perfect reliability?


Judging from my girlfriend's freak out when Pinterest went down, you better order up some blade servers or else close shop.  Nah, I'm kidding.  People do freak out sometimes, but I think everyone who has been in the business world for any significant amount of time knows that servers go down once in a while.  Of course it can be a major headache, depending on the nature of the business and timing.  Most businesses behave in an essentially logical way, so if you get any push back, turn to your good friend statistics.  Show them the uptime numbers of Amazon (or any other major cloud provider) and compare that to what they could expect otherwise.  The fact is that thousands of people are without power in parts of the country, and I doubt it has people too worried about the fundamental reliability of the electrical grid.  It will get fixed and things will return to normal.  

I don't think it matters much, but it is a good reminder to also have access to data locally if possible. The cloud is an amazingly useful tool, but it does have its drawbacks. Being totally dependent on the cloud can be a huge problems when Mother Nature is having a tantrum.

Natural disasters are something that we can't stop, we just have to live with them. Part of that includes local access to the applications and data we need to use each day. Good planning by IT departments can make a huge difference in such situations.
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