Amazon suffered a prolonged server outage last week that caused considerable frustration for some of the customers of its cloud computing services. Amazon blamed undisclosed problems with its server for the outage which began last Thursday and affected hundreds of sites.
Understandably, this has caused people to question the reliability of cloud computing and could mean that companies that had doubts about transitioning to the cloud will be more reluctant to make the move.
Kyle Hilgendorf, a cloud computing analyst at information technology research and advisory company Gartner, points out that cloud availability issues will continue to be heightened for a while as a result of the outage. Amazon portrays an invincible aura and this problem will remind customers that no-one is perfect and increased due diligence is necessary.
He went on to say that businesses should be concerned by the performance of the cloud, but the same is true of the reliability and performance of traditional hosting environments and data centers - a point I whole heartedly agree with.
For the SME business, the use of online accounting systems can actually mitigate risk. Saas providers liike ourselves use a robust IT infrastructure with excellent ‘kit’ in secure data-centres. Most small businesses have a bunch of assorted servers in an old broom cupboard and are historically bad at keeping back ups!
The bottom line is that, for the majority of small and medium-sized businesses (especially those with no IT department), it’s a lot less risky (and a lot less effort) to use a proven cloud computing platform than it is to install software and manage the data themselves. After all, how secure are most people’s computers and data backups against breakdown, theft or fire?
Unfortunately, failures do happen, just as they do with traditional hosting and enterprises would be advised to take steps to ensure they have measures in place to cope with disruptions to the service.
Will the Amazon outage be a one day wonder or will it have a longer term effect on the future of cloud computing?