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Mailbag: Crisis for Cloud Computing

Earlier this week, I blogged that Amazon's cloud computing problem from a three-day outage at its Northern Virginia datacenter had important ramifications for cloud computing.

Steve Clark, IT infrastructure architect for cloud, virtualization and Wintel with Lexmark, sent this thoughtful response taking issue with my characterization of Amazon as one of the big three in cloud computing and making some other good points:

"Personally, I don't think of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft as the big players. Yes, Google has Mail/Docs, Microsoft has Office 365 and Azure, and Amazon has IaaS -- but in all these cases, the solutions are basically special-purpose. It's kind of like saying IBM's Deep Blue is an example of artificial intelligence.

"In Amazon's case, they are providing an inexpensive product, not ready for true production -- despite their latest claims to have changed their delivery model. It's still IaaS for the not-faint-of-heart. Think about it: They are not running VMware, which is the only OS with true automated HA failover capabilities. Use it for transient, non-business-critical workload. Buyer beware.

"If you wish to host business-critical workloads with a cloud provider, you should be looking at the real players: the AT&Ts, Verizons, Savvis (in no particular order). These vendors not only provide HA capabilities, but also can provide DR planning assistance.

"I think the points you ask the reader to take are well-founded. First, don't depend on Amazon (or any vendor) for DR unless it's built into the contract (this likely is for SaaS, not IaaS or PaaS). And second, build in monetary penalties for missing well-defined SLAs. But, I don't think they should be looking to Amazon for HA."

An anonymous poster also left a lengthy response on the blog that included this bit:

"Public cloud services are nothing new. We've all been using them since we started using IM, e-mail from our Internet provider, Gmail, Hotmail, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. What's different is that companies are basing their entire infrastructure on the public cloud. That's probably not a good idea."

Posted by Scott Bekker on April 27, 2011