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What Happens When the Cloud Goes Wrong ?

If something can go wrong at some point it invariably will

DeletetheCloud It is great enthusing about the benefits of Cloud Computing, but what are the consequences when it goes wrong ? Of course, there are different levels of  ’going wrong’. We have often publicised outages from the likes of Amazon and Google, but given the publicised SLA’s of each some down time is expected. However things can get much more serious than this. Microsoft have just suffered a data loss that affects all Sidekick customers, of the Danger Group Microsoft purchased in 2008. Servers went offline on October 2nd 2009  and remained offline until October 6th. The services are back up but the data is not with  contacts, calendars, IM and SMS data not recoverable. The following went out to T Mobile users of the service:

“Regrettably, based on Microsoft/Danger’s latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device – such as contacts, calendar entries, to-do lists or photos – that is no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger.”

Earlier in the year it  emerged that Carbonite had lost some of its customers data in 2007. According to TechCrunch Carbonite lost the data of 7,500+ customers who relied on the company to keep their files safe. This emerged because of a law suit that Carbonite filed on the providers of  their infrastructure.

In this case it seems the data loss had no effect and any data loss was mitigated by the companies internal backup procedures. However, in the case of JournalSpace, this unfortunately was not the case. JournalSpace was a blogging platform that had been around for about 6 years and, due to a disgruntled employee, all customers blogs were wiped out from their internal servers. Ouch !

This is not the first time such human error has lead to such problems. In August 2008 Cloud Platform FlexiScale, had an outage for over 2 days due to an engineer accidentally deleting a main storage volume.

Also the damage done it not just to the customer but also to the vendor’s reputation, especially if they are a smaller vendor trying to make a name for themselves. One such catastrophe can literally be the difference between success and failure in the market.

So what can we learn from this ? Well the first thing is that, just like Murphy’s law, if something can go wrong at some point it invariably will. With that in mind you should always take all steps to protect your applications and data. This could mean backing them up locally or keeping backups on different storage clouds and having a DR ready plan in place. If you don’t then you cannot just blame the cloud….

Adapted from a post I made on Cloudiquity

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More Stories By Jim Liddle

Jim is CEO of Storage Made Easy. Jim is a regular blogger at SYS-CON.com since 2004, covering mobile, Grid, and Cloud Computing Topics.