When the cloud is happily, well, clouding along, delivering services, receiving requests and serving up data, everybody is happy. But companies who rely on the cloud for business have made a strategic choice to put their economic and business viability firmly in the hands of technology, and the arbiters of technology, the cloud service providers.
Although cloud services offer promises of robust backup, strong security and high reliability, they frankly haven’t been around that long to offer enough perspective. Saying that cloud services are reliable is like saying Mount Rainer is dormant because I haven’t seen anything but its snow covered peak since moving to Seattle eight years ago.
The cloud is new, and it hasn’t had a catastrophic failure yet, but we have seen GMail and other Google apps, Microsoft Azure and now Amazon’s EC2 (see InformationWeek’s Amazon EC2 Outage Hobbles Websites) suffer outages of various durations.
The end of InformationWeek’s article states:
WS’s S3 service suffered an eight hour failure back in July 2008. At the time, the company said that "any downtime is unacceptable and we won’t be satisfied until [AWS] is perfect."
Unfortunately, perfection isn’t possible. From cyber attacks to natural disasters, something sooner than later is going to take down a cloud service and the businesses reliant on that service won’t just be disrupted, they are likely to be put out of business. When that happens, trust in the cloud will diminish, and many firms will scramble to find alternatives like cross-hosting agreements and other ways to protect their business integrity. The smart companies will admit that no cloud service will ever be perfect and plan for disruption rather than waiting for a service disruption to destroy their fortunes.