Cloudy with a Chance of Outages and Breaches

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Apr 28, 2011

Last week’s outage of Amazon’s EC2 cloud services and Sony’s hacked PlayStation Network brought us down from cloud nine; forcing upon us the same questions of security and reliability within cloud computing and online networks that has been swirling around the IT industry for quite some time.

Amazon’s EC2 cloud services failure affected sites like Foursquare, Reddit, and Quora, while Sony’s PlayStation Network outage continues to frustrate gamers entering its eighth day. More importantly, however, is credit card information and personal data that was allegedly stolen from Sony PlayStation users.

These recent hiccups in the cloud services industry poked some holes in the cloud computing image, prompting businesses to think twice before migrating their IT infrastructure over to the cloud and trusting sensitive information in online services. The debate about cloud computing reliability and trust isn’t new, but will continue to remain on the back burner as the future of cloud computing becomes increasingly questionable.

So here we are again: Is online cloud services sophisticated enough to handle the security requirements and data storage and operational needs of an organization’s infrastructure? Big companies who can afford an additional backup infrastructure may not be impacted as much if their cloud services provider went down, but what about smaller companies who cannot afford those types of safety nets and used the cloud to cut back on those same IT infrastructure costs to begin with? Is the price advantage of cloud computing worth it if backup is now considered a requirement?

Rather than re-examining the never-ending issue of whether the future of cloud computing is sustainable, the real focus should be around knowledge and planning — knowledge of your own IT infrastructure and the cloud model that best fits your business practices, and planning in case there is a systematic failure. No IT infrastructure is perfect. There will always be issues with either on-premise or off-premise IT administrative services and support. And the cloud is just like any other technology that businesses rely on — some days it could work great, other days it could crash.

The lesson that everyone should have learned by now (but is typically overlooked) in such a technology-dependent society is to back up critical information and data. Researching and understanding which cloud computing service is safe and reliable for your business is only half the battle; knowing when to back up your information is the other.

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