The cloud scores over on-premises computing mainly owing to the resilience and redundancy it offers. Cloud providers maintain data in multiple servers located at different parts of the world so that even if one data center is down for any reason, another one can take its place and ensure normal service. At least, this is how it is supposed to work in theory.
The reality can be different as Amazon Cloud Services has repeatedly found out the hard way.
In 2011, a lightning struck Dublin, destroying a power transformer and taking down the power supply to Amazon’s data center along with it. That by itself was nothing extraordinary, as any data center worth its salt have power backups in place. The problem was that the same lightning that destroyed the power backup infrastructure at the data center plunged Amazon’s EC2 cloud service offline as well. The much-touted redundant mechanisms characteristic of cloud computing came to naught in this case!
In June 2012, Amazon’s Northern Virginia data center suffered from similar power outages twice in less than a month. This outage, caused by electric storms, even affected services such as Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest. These incidents drive home the bitter truth that the cloud, for all its advantages, is by no means infallible.
Cloud providers would do well to learn from the disaster that has repeatedly stuck Amazon to pay some serious attention to the recovery and restoration processes they offer.
A backup may not exactly be a backup after all, especially when it is interconnected to the main source. Just as storing data in a CD disk will not help if fire engulfs the premises and burns down both the hard disk and the CD storage facility, cloud providers need to properly diversify when it comes to security. In Amazon’s power outage, backup power could ideally have been from a different grid.
Customers would likewise do well to have their own redundancy and disaster recovery systems in place rather than blindly trusting the cloud provider. Listed below are a few things the customers should consider on their part: