When cloud goes bad
Cloud outage may be a bit of an oxymoron, but the term just keeps cropping up
Blogs | 05 Mar 2012 :
The leap year day, 29 February, is not a surprise. It is the inelegant answer to an awkward problem that comes around every four years to remind us that we can't make Mother Nature conform so easily to our measures.
That said, as the answer to an awkward problem, it should not be the cause of any awkward problems. But that seems to have been the case with the recent Windows Azure outage that left users, albeit in a relatively small geographical area according to Microsoft, without the ability to administer their Azure hosted applications.
The outage, or rather service degradation as it was termed, affected the ability of users to administer their applications, as opposed to an outage affecting the applications themselves. In this respect, the incident could be said to be of less impact than the likes of the now notorious Blackberry outage last year.
However, the point of this is that any outage in a high profile cloud platform, such as Windows Azure, significantly undermines cloud computing as whole, particularly the marketing approach that argues that any service provider is going to have better infrastructure than all but the most massive companies.
While this argument sounds compelling, the likes of this outage does severe damage. First of all, any outage in cloud platform is bad news as it undermines the basic premise of an always on service with better uptime than most organisations can manage on their own. Secondly, there is the argument that as you offload to the cloud to concentrate on what you do best, so is your service provider- doing what they do best in providing a highly redundant resilient cloud platform.
The tide of fear, uncertainty and doubt that surrounds cloud computing is not dispelled in anyway by the likes of these outages, but when an outage is caused by something as simple as leap year day, then there is an element of farce creeping in.
When outages in infrastructures such as cloud platforms occur, they should at least be dramatic, complex and near incomprehensible to all but the most wild-haired, white coated scienticians! But when they are for mundane reasons well, it deflates the cloud and makes those with doubts feel validated in ignoring the opportunities.