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Microsoft Cloud Authors: Andreas Grabner, Nick Basinger, Kevin Benedict, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

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Amazon’s cloud outage highlights infancy of the technology

Seattle based Amazon, the online retailer who is more talked about these days for its Web Services aka Amazon EC2 cloud computing, had a massive outage last week due to hardware failures triggered by power loss. As the whole world seems to be operating from the cloud these days, the Amazon malfunction again elicited debates about the wisdom of jumping to the skies to cut costs. In this day of 24x7x365 business and super fast service, how much are you willing to rely on outsourced platforms to lead your disaster recovery measures?

Cloud computing is also served up by vendors as a more green option. Highly specialized energy saving environments that are carefully cultivated by huge companies like Amazon and Microsoft are likely to waste considerably less energy than the clients who seek their cloud services they say. But the big elephant in the room when it comes to cloud computing continues to be security concerns as you let go of sensitive client data over an open network. Remote computing increases the risk of breaches. This was recently brought to the forefront with Google’s well documented security breach with Google docs when user generated documents saved on Google Docs Cloud Computing Service was revealed to users of the service who lacked permission to view the files. Certainly Google has been exceptional in embracing green computing and proclaims to run the most energy efficient data centers in the world. But are we willing to ease up on the security of confidential data to get our carbon limits under control?

Even as such questions are being raised, cloud continues to surge ahead. Market research firm IDC recently came out with a study predicting that the marketplace would radically transform in 2010 driven by among other things a growing impact from the cloud services model.  IBM launched the Cloudburst cloud appliance for 'private cloud' deployment this year, Salesforce went for its piece of the cloud with Force.com. Amazon’s EC2 and Microsoft’s Azure are constantly updating themselves to keep up with all the cloud moves. Organizations such as the Cloud Security Alliance, comprising of industry leaders, global associations and security experts, have published guidance to come up with secure cloud computing practices and has released guidelines that cover 15 security domains, ranging from computing architecture to virtualization for organizations. Just like any other emerging technology, there are certain matters that require meticulous ironing out.

I’m optimistic that we will be able to make cloud work as we cannot ignore the business benefits that it brings us (lots of cash save) while keeping our individual and collective carbon limits under check.


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