By this point, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of sensationalist news about cloud computing. That’s to be expected, as cloud computing represents a huge technological shift and will continue to demand a lot of attention. Yesterday, the Washington Post published this gem of an article based on a power outage that impacted one of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) data centers:
Friday’s storms raise questions about safety of cloud computing.
This is journalistic sensationalism at it’s worst. Yes, AWS had a power outage and it did impact some fairly well known web applications that utilize AWS like Netflix. But, as the article goes on to mention, there was no data loss or security breach. So in what way did the storm raise a question about the safety of cloud computing?
What makes cloud providers like AWS so exceptional is the fact that they run geographically redundant data centers. If one of their data centers loses power, 100 percent of the data will still be available in a geographically redundant data center. Not only that, but any servers that were impacted could be restarted within minutes in another data center. Even the best traditional hosting environments would be lucky to have a skeleton environment in a separate physical location. But for architectures like ours that leverage AWS, we can start up a the exact same environment in a different location within minutes.
When it comes to natural disasters, Cloud Computing isn’t the problem, but it is a huge part of the solution. You still need to design your application to take advantage of the redundancy AWS offers, and I’m certain that many providers are not doing that. We like to say that when it comes to things like data security or “safety” that perfection isn’t a realistic goal. There is only better and worse than the level of security that you have today. Nextpoint’s applications live in the cloud and experienced zero downtime and zero data loss during this power outage. If your data center had a power outage, would you be able to say the same?
Ben Wolf is Vice President of Research and Development for Nextpoint. He has been creating web-based legal technology products for more than decade, with an emphasis on building highly secure and scalable web-based applications. Previously, Ben was the Chief Architect for the industry-leading Thomson Elite Business Development product line which is currently used by over 30 percent of the AmLaw 100 firms, including Jones Day, Squire Sanders, Sidley, Loeb & Loeb, DLA, and White & Case. At Nextpoint, Ben pioneered the implementation of enterprise cloud computing and virtualization technologies that are the foundation of the company’s technology platform.