Cloud Outages: Don't Fear the Temporary Darkness

Cloud Outages: Don't Fear the Temporary Darkness

At first glance, today wasn't such a great day for cloud computing. Microsoft suffered its second major cloud outage in recent weeks, raising more questions about the reliability of big, commercial cloud systems. Still, I've got a theory: I suspect cloud computing is still more reliable than most on-premises networks. Here's why.

Please note: I'm not knocking on-premise computing. I understand why customers want to hold on to their PCs, printers, network infrastructure and some servers. But overall, it just makes more and more sense -- particularly for small businesses -- to shift their applications into the cloud.

Sure, Microsoft suffered a 90-minute cloud outage today. And we've heard about outages at Amazon, Rackspace and other major service providers. But I'll go back to a statement made at the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit in June 2010:

  • Cloud Computing is like the airline industry: For the most part, it's incredibly safe. But when there's a big crash the media covers it closely because a community of people -- hundreds of people, thousands of peers -- feel the painful impact. Plus, the crashes are rare so it's actually news when one occurs.
  • On-premises computing is like the auto industry: There are thousands of crashes every day across the word. But nobody really talks about the crashes because they only involve individuals. Plus, the crashes are so common that we don't pay much attention to them.
I concede: I'll never let go of my PCs and notebooks. And now I'm hooked on tablet computing, smart phones and a bunch of other mobile devices. But increasingly, those devices access SaaS applications. In fact, our entire business essentially runs in the cloud.

For MSPs: Yes, take note of Microsoft's outage today. But don't use it as an excuse to believe that cloud computing won't live up to its hype. Amazon.com already generates $500 million annually from Amazon Web Services. Salesforce.com has pushed beyond the $1 billion revenue figure. Upstarts like NetSuite have called this the year of the channel in the cloud. And even cloud skeptics like Larry Ellison have launched service provider pricing for MSPs that want to use Oracle as a foundation for cloud computing.

The outages are real, but rare. And they'll get rarer.

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