Putting A Figure On Cloud Failures: $71 Million Since 2007

Putting A Figure On Cloud Failures: $71 Million Since 2007

As supporters of cloud computing, it’s expected of us to report on all the positive developments in this field, and as is obvious, there was, is and will be many of those. At the same time, as commentators with integrity, it is our duty to present to our readers negative news about cloud failures as well. As long time followers of this site will attest, we have done that consistently, some of my relevant articles (in chronological order) being:

1. Gmail Outage – Is Cloud Computing To Blame?

2. What Effect Will the Epsilon Data Theft have on Cloud Computing?

3. Lessons from the Amazon Cloud Outage

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

5. Should You Be Concerned? A List of Recent Cloud Computing Failures – II

However, if there was one thing that was lacking in coverage, it was an estimate of the cost of such failures. The reason behind this was the lack of authoritative analysis. Even as one body has tried to bridge this gap, the disclaimer is loud and clear with mention of “at least several shortcomings in our (their) approach.”

The International Working Group on Cloud Computing Resiliency, formed in March 2012 by Telecom ParisTech and Paris 13 University, published a report titles Availability Ranking of World Cloud Computing, where it said that 13 large cloud service providers had suffered a total of 568 hours suspension of operations since 2007 causing an economic impact of at least $71 million. Now, $71 million may not seem that large a figure considering the scale of global business, but considering that the analysis was based on publicly available press releases and that not all failures are publicized, there is a very real probability this figure is considerably higher.

There’s another interesting set of numbers in this report – “cloud service availability show an average of 7:5 hours unavailable per year, or 99:9% availability.” The report pointedly states that not only is this figure a far cry from “the expected reliability of mission critical system (99:999%),” it compares very unfavorably with the availability of electricity (less than 15 minutes of downtime in a modern capital city), a utility cloud computing is often compared with.

The researchers clarified that the analysis does suffer from some shortcomings. While they have promised to improve matters in their next report, it is my personal opinion that an analysis free of these stated weaknesses would have been an authoritative take on the issue rather than just grab headlines. However, it does give one pause for thought.

The short report is available as a free download

By Sourya Biswas

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