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Do You Really Want Your Data in the Cloud?

My guess is the uptake will take longer than most people predict; the risk of failure is too great

Don Dodge's Blog

The web fanatics and blogosphere would have you believe that all applications will move to the web. Some will, most will not. Reliability, scalability, security, and a host of other issues will prevent most businesses from moving their mission critical applications to hosted services or cloud based services. The risk of failure is too great.

I woke up earlier this June and checked TechMeme to see what was happening in the tech world. Three stories jumped out at me. Amazon was down due to a Denial of Service attack. Twitter has been down many times over the past few weeks. Dave Winer says he needs a Plan B for Twitter. Disqus, the blog commenting service, has also been down several times recently.

So, I decided to write a quick post about the unreliability of cloud based services. Normally I use Windows Live Writer, a desktop based program, to compose my posts. But, since this was going to be a quick post with no graphics or photos I decided to use TypePad's web based service. Big mistake. It crashed when I tried to run the spell check service just before posting. I swear, I am not making this up.

Typepad provides a browser window to compose your post. Then when you want to use spell check it calls out to another service and runs your text through it. At precisely this point the service failed. Actually it said it was running the spell checker...forever. I decided to let it run for a while to see if it would recover. Nope. I tried to refresh the screen. It said if I navigate away from this screen all work would be lost. It had already been 20 minutes and nothing else seemed to work so I tried the screen refresh. Gone...everything gone. I tried the back button. No luck.

TypePad has lost my posts under similar circumstances probably 10 times out of 300 posts. So failing 3% of the time isn't bad, right? No way. That is why I stopped using TypePad for posting a long time ago. I thought I would be OK with a quick simple post. But, no, screwed again. That is it for me. Never again.

The web fanatics and blogosphere would have you believe that all applications will move to the web. Some will, most will not. Reliability, scalability, security, and a host of other issues will prevent most businesses from moving their mission critical applications to hosted services or cloud based services. The risk of failure is too great.

Amazon is the leader in cloud based services, but even Amazon has experienced down times for its own business. Cloud services will continue to improve. But my guess is the uptake will take longer than most people predict. Today was another reminder of the reality and risk.

[This appeared originally here and is republished by kind permission of the author, who retains full copyright.]

More Stories By Don Dodge

Don Dodge has been a product, strategic and market visionary at five start-up ventures and possesses a track record of driving business and technology in entrepreneurial and high-growth environments. Most recently he was Director, Business Development at Microsoft, where he handled Venture Capital relations and business development with start-up companies in the Boston area.

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Most Recent Comments
Don Dodge 07/19/08 03:55:42 PM EDT

D Cheng, Of course in-house systems go down. What I am saying is that our psychological need for control makes us hold onto teh traditional ways of doing things.

When systems go down we want to know why, and what we can do to prevent it from happening again. When are systems are hosted in the cloud we don't really know what happened or why.

D Cheng 07/15/08 05:42:18 PM EDT

Ok... So are you saying in-house systems never go down?

David Meyer 06/27/08 01:14:56 PM EDT

My wife's podcasting service offers a choice of composing your content locally or in the cloud. I've always advocated "locally" as that way you have a local "backup" in case something breaks on their end. AND you get a few more options to customize your work.
But we back our local files up to California and Virginia (from Massachusetts) as well as to a local hard drive - just in case.