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Cloud Outages

By Steve Jones,

It seems that almost every few weeks there's some announcement of an outage for a large service provider on the Internet. We've had Amazon Web Services go down, numerous Salesforce.com issues, and Microsoft's Office 365 recently had problems. Most of us that work in IT are probably painfully aware of our own outages and how difficult it is to keep servers up across a long period of time.

There are plenty of companies that have had outages, and I expect we'll regularly see more announcements as companies look to engage cloud computing services. This isn't to say that cloud services are unreliable, or even less reliable than in-house services. As is the case with many choices, your mileage may vary (YMMV) no matter which way you choose to provision your IT infrastructure.

In my mind, we need to ensure that cloud computing vendors take these outages seriously, inform customers what went wrong, what was fixed, and what is being done to reduce the chances of outages in the future. Google has a dashboard, which is actually nice, albeit a little simple. It ignores some large Google sites, like Blogger, which had an issue a few weeks ago that was very annoying for me as I tried to publish a few entries.

One would hope that cloud services would take their responsibility to offer a service seriously, and have less downtime than any random IT department. However the people running many of the daily operations at cloud service providers aren't the best of the best IT people. They're the IT people just like you and me that have a job to do, and do it with varying degrees of professionalism, and success. I would hope that they have better procedures, more consistent monitoring, and quicker response times, and some will, but not all of them.

Moving to the cloud solves some problems in an IT infrastructure, but at the expense of less oversight, potentially less security, and certainly less control over how the daily operations are handled. It should result in better reliability for the systems over time, but as I mentioned, YMMV.

Steve Jones

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