Friday, 23 September 2011

Cloud outages

A letter in The Economist earlier in the year puts an interesting perspective on cloud outages.

SIR – I was disappointed that your article added to the hysteria that surrounds cloud computing (“Break-ins and breakdowns”, April 30th). In my view cloud computing is like commercial aviation. Which is safer per-mile of travel: aircraft or automobile? Car crashes are responsible for more deaths, yet a plane crash is certain to make the news. For the same reason, cloud computing outages are considered newsworthy. Although the frequent down times of companies’ internal IT systems are less publicised, these down times almost certainly cause more harm and lost productivity in aggregate (like car accidents).

Air travel makes people uncomfortable, in part because of a loss of control, no matter how well trained and experienced the pilot may be. Similarly organisations fear cloud computing, preferring to be “behind the wheel”. Yet transportation statistics show that desire can be misguided.

Aviation had its share of hype and detractors, but no one would argue that it has not transformed travel. I predict that once the dust settles, cloud computing will be no less transformative.

Milo M.K. Martin
Associate professor of computer science
University of Pennsylvania

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