Cloud Computing, like you, will have bad days

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Beanstalk to the Cloud

Questions about the reliability of cloud computing emerged again this week when Amazon’s cloud-computing services suffered an outage that partially or completely disrupted Foursquare, Reddit, Hootsuite, Quora, and hundreds of other online services. The New York Times echoed the concerns that some businesses had as a result of the outage: “Amazon Malfunction Raises Cloud Computing Doubts.” The article also quoted an industry executive who had an apt observation:

The Amazon interruption, said Lew Moorman, chief strategy officer of Rackspace, a specialist in data center services, was the computing equivalent of an airplane crash. It is a major episode with widespread damage. But airline travel, he noted, is still safer than traveling in a car — analogous to cloud computing being safer than data centers run by individual companies.

“Every day, inside companies all over the world, there are technology outages,” Mr. Moorman said. “Each episode is smaller, but they add up to far more lost time, money and business.”

This weeks outage only affected a tiny percentage of all the users of cloud-computing services. Netflix, for example, relies on the same Amazon data services and suffered no problems. I didn’t have trouble accessing my Gmail or my photos on Facebook. All that stuff is in the “cloud.” I was waiting for a good explanation about what happened at the Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) center in northern Virginia, but I’ve decided I probably wouldn’t really understand the technical stuff anyway (excessive re-mirroring of Elastic Block Storage (EBS) volumes?). There will be outages in the future. Businesses will suffer. I will be irritated that I can’t get into Reddit or whatever is down. These things happen. Your computer will break. You’ll have trouble connecting to the Internet. Your car will break down. You deal with it. The problem at Amazon will be fixed. New problems will pop up, there and elsewhere. Of course, you can choose to avoid cloud services. Or you can be like Microsoft, which is spending $8.64 billion this year in cloud research and development.

Reddit’s dysfunctional charm

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I’m not a Reddit guy…yet. But it’s hard to avoid the creative, entertaining, and sometimes informative overflow that comes from this community. Plunge yourself into the realm of “subreddits,” where you can spend hours exploring topics such as Advice Animals, Today I Learned (TIL), Ask Reddit, First World Problems, or Pics. It all came crashing down yesterday, when Amazon’s cloud computing services suffered an outage that impacted Reddit, Foursquare, Quora, Hootsuite, and a number of other websites. This was my favorite tweet from a Reddit user confronting the reality of the situation:

I woke up this morning and found Reddit was still experiencing problems. In the title of this post, I said Reddit has a “dysfunctional charm.” Reddit was also down last month. It is notoriously underfunded. Just take a look at its headquarters in these photos. You apparently can see three of Reddit’s four employees. And yet it has ONE BILLION pageviews a month. I’m rooting for Reddit. I want it to flourish. Even when it was really down yesterday, it maintained a sense of humor (note No. 4):

More clouds in your computing forecast

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Gotta dig up the "Forever Alone" guy meme (see below).

Today was all about clouds. Music stored in clouds. Imaginary girlfriends billowing about. I’m not certain the “cloud girlfriend” site isn’t a hoax, but I signed up to be a beta tester or something. The big news was the launch of the Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. You take about 5 gigs of music – about 1,000 songs – and you upload them to Amazon, where they’ll be accessible via the Cloud Player from any computer or Android device. (It isn’t Apple friendly, so I haven’t been able to try it out.) If you want more storage space, then you pay. Otherwise, it’s free. Storing data is cheap. Moving it around the Internet is cheap. Think about streaming movies via Netflix. No DVDs. No stores. Amazon is trying to shift toward digital content. All the big players are. Both Google and Apple are expected to unveil cloud “lockers” for your music later this year. Amazon was first, but it may have jumped the gun because it hasn’t formalized licensing agreements with the major music labels. It will all be worked out eventually. Everything is shifting to the clouds. More

Gmail is Safe

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Mainframe computer
Image credit: scriptingnews via Flickr

Your Gmail is safe. This is important. Do not sweat it. Cloud computing, done right, works. I was wondering if Gmail was compromised this weekend when news first broke that as many as 500,000 accounts had been reset. You shouldn’t worry. I did for a bit this weekend when the news circulated about people losing their email accounts. Google took care of business. But I have since learned that it is something that is easily manageable. Why? Because everything is on tape. It took a bit of time to get everything back. As far as I know, the naysayers look stupid. However, those who lost precious hours were screwed. If you are still worried, there are plenty of solutions in the mix. I added my main Gmail account to my Mac email client and downloaded my emails.  That was my backup system. I feel so much better about Google right now. Trust in cloud computing is all that matters. And they have you covered, so far. More