Should You Be Concerned? A List of Recent Cloud Computing Failures – I

Should You Be Concerned? A List of Recent Cloud Computing Failures – I

“One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day.”
– Aristotle (384BC – 322BC), Greek philosopher.

Now, Aristotle’s sayings are as relevant today as they were 2400 years ago. In case you differ, consider what he had to say about the youth of his age:

The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone knew everything and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them.”

You will see that this is a belief shared by every generation that has walked the earth since the time of Aristotle, even the generation you belong to. But we are digressing; the reason behind this quote is to draw parallels with cloud computing, especially the recent Amazon outage.

Now, a lot has been said of the Amazon outage. I had myself written articles detailing the reactions to this incident from across the spectrum (See: Reactions to the Amazon Cloud Outage and the Company’s Explanation) and also analyzed Amazon’s not-so-subtle hint of human error being the reason (See: Did Human Error Cause The Amazon Cloud Computing Outage?).

However, most cloud computing enthusiasts have dismissed this incident as a one-off incident that does not represent the industry’s reliability, or lack of it. At the same time, there are others who cite the Amazon incident as the latest in a long list of “swallows” that have plagued cloud computing in the recent past, and which portend darker times for the technology.

While this website and I personally believe in the net benefits of cloud computing vis-à-vis the occasional problems, I feel it is my duty to enumerate certain incidents that may give cause for pause as far as belief in the technology is considered.

Moreover, this is not a spur-of-the-moment decision in the wake of the Amazon incident but a view that I have been presenting for some time now – proceed with caution. That has been the gist of two of my earlier articles, one dealing with the technology itself (See: How to Avoid a Cloud Computing Gold Rush and the other with the stocks of the companies providing the technology (See: Are Cloud Computing Stocks Overvalued?

On this chain of thought, I present a list of some recent cloud computing failures that happened before the recent Amazon outage. These are listed in chronological order, with the date of first occurrence mentioned in parentheses. Note that this is not an exhaustive list but one that records the most recent incidents that have adversely affected public opinion of cloud computing.

1. (June 1, 2010)
2. Twitter (June 11, 2010)
3. Skype (December 22, 2010)
4. Hotmail (December 30, 2010)
5. Gmail (February 27, 2011)
6. Intuit (March 28, 2011)
7. Epsilon (April 1, 2011)

In the second and concluding part of this article, I will examine each of these incidents in detail.

By Sourya Biswas

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