The evening of Thursday, June 14th was shaken by the news about the outage in Amazon Web Services. Their oldest server located in North Virginia experienced downtime for several hours, taking down many popular websites including Heroku and Quora. Together with the previous issues of this kind, this sheds a new light onto cloud services and raises important questions about them.
The outage was caused by a cable fault and it lasted from 8.44PM PDT to around 3.26PM PDT when the Amazon reported that the issues were resolved. Any system malfunction of this kind is serious, especially considering how sensitive the data stored on Amazon servers might be. However, this outage was relatively brief in comparison to the previous one it experienced. It happened on the same server in April, 2011 and this time some of the websites were down for 47hrs.
While both businesses and individuals increasingly embrace remote services as an efficient solution, many still question their reliability. Hosted services are said to be the best way to decrease the IT costs, but is it really worth the risk? Let’s not forget about the outages in Microsoft Windows Azure in February earlier this year when the servers stopped working for about 9hrs or when Dropbox had 4hrs system failure. When there are listsof the worst outages each year, it’s just impossible to ignore them.
The issues like these don’t speak much in favor of hosted services. This is why many users consider private cloud a safer option. Private cloud refers to the privately held software and is probably the best solution for big enterprises. However, small and medium sized businesses are usually not ready to invest much into IT equipment and the initial costs of private cloud are considerable. Taking into account the costs necessary for the infrastructure to function well in any business, the public cloud seems like a logical solution, at least for smaller businesses.
Clearly, it is impossible for one solution to suit all. While people are taking sides: public vs. private, there are still those who are aware of the fact that each different business would have different IT needs. Therefore, it is important to consider both options without pre-established prejudices. Mind you, privately held services are almost equally likely to experience outages as the public services. There is also a question of management teams, loyalty of customers, etc. Therefore, it is not only the issue of outage that should influence a decision on cloud hosting.
Cloud providers have been struggling for a long time to prove that their services are secure and reliable. They still do, especially as the market competition is growing. The above mentioned disruptions may additionally confuse both the existing and potential users, but the providers should set out to improve their products as well as the product features. Though all the fuss about the cloud security makes many users doubtful, it might actually bring some benefits. The more doubtful the users are the better product providers will make. So, these sensitive issues may actually be a good incentive for the competitors to make their services as good as possible.