Cloud Headaches?

The industry is abuzz with people who are freaked out about the outages that Amazon and other cloud vendors have had.  “Amazon S3 Crash Raises Doubts Among Cloud Customers,” says InformationWeek!

This is because people are going into cloud computing with retardedly high expectations.  This year at Velocity, Interop, etc. I’ve seen people just totally in love with cloud computing – Amazon’s specifically but in general as well.  And it’s a good concept for certain applications.  However, it is a computing system just like every other computing system devised previously by man.  And it has, and will have, problems.

Whether you are using in house systems, or a SaaS vendor, or building “in the cloud,” you have the same general concerns.  Am I monitoring my systems?  What is my SLA?  What is my recourse if my system is not hitting it?  What’s my DR plan?

SaaS is a special case of cloud computing in general.  And if you’re a company relying on it, when you contract with a SaaS vendor you get SLAs established and figure out what the remedy is if they breach it.  If you are going into a relationship where you are just paying money for a cloud VM, storage, etc. and there is no enforceable SLA in the relationship, then you need to build the risk of likely and unremediable outages into your business plan.

I hate to break it to you, but the IT people working at Amazon, Google, etc. are not all that smarter than the IT people working with you.  So an unjustified faith in a SaaS or cloud vendor – “Oh, it’s Amazon, I’m sure they’ll never have an outage of any sort – either across their entire system or localized to my part of it – and if they do I’m sure the $100/month I’m paying them will cause them to give a damn about me” – is an unreasonable expectation on its face.

Clouds and cloud vendors are a good innovation.  But they’re like every other computing innovation and vendor selling it to you.  They’ll have bugs and failures.  But treating them as if they won’t is a failure on your part, not theirs.

2 Comments

Filed under Cloud, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Cloud Headaches?

  1. M L

    Ernest,

    There are a couple of questions customers of SaaS should ask, such as those related to redundancy, data security, and maintenance of the application. I’m sure these are somewhat implicit in your post. Just take for example, the story of this guy who got “disowned” by Google. Link here: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/when-google-owns-you.

  2. Ernest

    Oh, totally. I didn’t link it because it’s only a couple posts back but I should have – recently I posted on a litany of questions/requirements you should keep in mind whenever dealing with a SaaS vendor – http://webadminblog.com/index.php/2008/07/15/saas-headaches/.

    They all apply to clouds as well, although many of the cloud vendors are acting as commodity vendors and aren’t interested in talking with you/haggling over contracts. Those will come, though.

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