In the past two weeks, there have been two major outages at very large companies providing software and infrastructure services, known as cloud computing.
First, Amazon's Web services had a multi-day outage in one of its zones that affected a range of prominent companies such as Foursquare, Quora and Reddit. Second, Sony saw a major breach of its PlayStation Network that brought down the service for weeks.
Amazon's example is interesting because it is not a provider of end services to consumers. But rather it provides servers and delivery infrastructure to other companies, which in turn might provide end services to consumers. So, while we might not know or care about Amazon's outage, we might have found ourselves wondering why one of our favorite websites wasn't properly functioning.
In Sony's case, its site was badly hacked and user account information, including credit card data, allegedly was stolen. In response, Sony brought down its network. If you've ever used a PlayStation 3 for anything more than playing a simple one-person game, then you know you need PlayStation Network service. It is used to play multi-player games, it is used to support various online offerings, and what bothered me was I needed it to access third-party products, such as Netflix.
More and more, products and services we have come to know and depend upon are moving to the cloud. But when issues like this occur, it causes us to question the wisdom of that move.
While these and other problems have called into question the value of moving services to the cloud, they won't even rise to the level of a speed bump in the adoption path. This is because the value proposition realized by companies who embrace cloud services is simply too strong.
Companies can't afford not to embrace cloud computing.
The irony in all of this is cloud providers such as Amazon still remain better, faster and more specialized in the services they provide than what most other companies provide for themselves internally. And even more importantly, since Amazon’s business depends entirely on its service levels, it’s going to great lengths to address these issues so they never happen again.
In Sony's case, it claims to be building an entirely new network. In Amazon's case, you can read its entire post mortem and what it’s doing to correct the problem here. You'll notice its attention to this issue is extensive.
I like the analogy given by one cloud executive who likened these problems to a plane crash: It's awful, but it doesn't stop people from flying. What it does do is cause the airlines to step up and to do a better job going forward.
This is what is happening here. Because of these issues we'll see some slowdowns in adoption, but for the most part, we'll just see more mature vendors.
How have you been affected by cloud computing outages?
Treff LaPlante is president and CEO of Harrisburg-based WorkXpress.