Sunday, May 17, 2009

Always up and the cloud


{{Potd/2006-04-2 (en)}}Image via Wikipedia

I find this discussion of 100% uptime quite interesting: Google Outage Shows the Cloud May Not Be Enterprise-Ready

Google and other cloud-based services have been experiencing outages of several hours' duration throughout 2009. While that may be fine for members of the general public, who can live with e-mail occasionally being down for an hour, it is of potential concern for businesses of all sizes, including larger enterprise companies, where constant uptime equals revenue and even survival. Are services such as Google Apps and Microsoft Azure ready to meet that need?

I remember a saying back in the day, and it revolved around emergency services like 9-1-1, that when it absolutely had to run you chose Unix. Of course, Unix-based systems didn't run 100% of the time. You can create redundant systems all you want, but they still are not going to run 100% of the time. Nothing runs 100% of the time.

I'm reminded of when I moved to Iowa from California to attend graduate school. This was back in the 80s. One of my first tasks as part of my instructorship was to help in organizing a big conference. I worked on it for months. When the day of the conference finally arrived, we had this massive snow storm and the event was canceled. Canceled just like that. No one gave it a second thought. I'd never experienced a blizzard before. I was distraught. All that work. All that money. Poof!

The people I worked with on the other hand, were totally unconcerned. Of course, they were way smarter than me. They'd learned to accept that snow happens. I still had to learn that lesson, but eventually I came to look at snow events as opportunities. An opportunity to slow down. An opportunity to do something different. Snow helped to put things in proper perspective. The sky wasn't going to fall.

That's how I feel about cloud computing as well. If you can't get to the servers, who cares, the world isn't going to come to an end. If you live in Iowa you come to accept snow as a sometimes inconvenient aspect of life. Same thing with the cloud. If you live in the cloud you realize that sometimes those clouds might be cumulus, and at other times they might be funnels. You'll be far healthier and happier if you just think of a cloud failure as something akin to a naturally occurring phenomenon.

I think there is a freeranging lesson here.




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