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Dealing with Cloud Downtime Pt. 1

Posted by QuoteColo on February 04, 2014

dealing with cloud downtime

Every Cloud Hosting company, be they private or public Cloud providers, has sold their product on 99.99% uptime. Beyond all other needs, Cloud solutions took 2013 to actively sell their product by way of squashing downtime concerns. But here is the thing: what most providers don’t tell the public is that that their solutions do go down. Yes, flying in the face of popular belief, “grid computing” providers go down from time to time.

In our world of 24/7/365 instant access to everything, what is a Cloud provider to do when their solutions go down? Additionally, what is a consumer to do when their website or database server goes offline for three hours due to their provider’s infrastructure failing? But before we answer those questions, we need to discuss the reason for downtime and why the public, when downtime occurs, feels outraged.

The Reason for Cloud Solution Downtime

Contrary to popular belief, the Cloud isn’t located in the sky. It isn’t floating around in the atmosphere connecting you to Instagram at 3 AM while chatting with an actual cumulonimbus cloud. No. Although no provider ever says it, grid computing services are routed in remote hardware servers buzzing away in a data center. That’s right; the Cloud is a marketing name for remote servers located in a data center providing instant access utilizing a stable Internet connection.

So, why does Gmail, Facebook, Spotify and Twitter go down from time to time? The answer is simple: a piece of hardware or software controlling your provider’s infrastructure fails. This failure, until it is fixed by engineers, takes your Cloud based application offline.

True Redundancy?

Now, most providers have sold their solution on the notion of 99.99% uptime. In tech terms, this means IT redundancy. 99.99% Cloud uptime means your host either owns a data center or leases from a data center provider who utilizes redundant hosting technologies. Those technologies include power, cooling, data, ISP providers, points of access etc. For those who don’t know redundancy means if a single technology fails, your solutions fall over to another already running technology to ensure your service uptime. Thus, when you experience downtime utilizing Cloud applications, your providers’ redundant technologies failed – both of them.

This begs the question: if 99.99% uptime can fail due to faulty redundant solutions, why are web hosting providers marketing their Cloud Computing services with 99.99% uptime? The answer is simple – marketing lies.

Yes, marketing minds lie. The marketing minds behind the grid are no different. IT marketers sell their products with 99.99% uptime operating from a Tier 3 + data center because they know it sounds good and more importantly, they know most people have no idea what a data center is or how redundant technologies impact overall hosted services. A lack of education on behalf of the marketplace is the reason IT marketers can get away with 99.99% uptime. Interestingly enough, it is also the reason why the Internet explodes when Gmail or Twitter go down.

Now that we have established data center services can fail to the point of complete solution downtime, we need to talk about how Cloud consumers utilizing said solutions can get help in their time of need and what Cloud consumers should look for before entering into contract with a provider in terms of downtime compensations. We will cover that topic in Dealing with Cloud Downtime Pt. 2.

What Do You Think?