The outage of Amazon's EC2 Cloud service has spurred debate over the perceived risks of Cloud computing, with some pundits even questioning its implications for Software-as-a-Service itself.

Different Perspectives Abound

There have been a range of reactions and over-reactions to the event and the significance of it. I’ve outlined the three most common perspectives below:

  • Pioneers: Amazon has smart people creating amazing offerings. Most view them as pioneers, redefining technology and Amazon’s influence will likely shape the technology industry for years and years to come. Like all pioneers, they are going to have their setbacks. Did the first settlers heading out to California make it unscathed? Indeed not!
  • The Glass is Half Empty: Some of those pundits who view the "glass as half empty" are declaring this as a failure of cloud computing, and that this setback will spell doom for the emerging multi-billion dollar Cloud computing industry. "It's the End of the Cloud as we Know It"...
  • The Glass is Half Full: For those who view the "glass as half full", this has been declared as a defining moment in the maturation of the Cloud. This is a learning experience that ultimately will make the Cloud services better, more reliable and the market opportunity even bigger. "It's the End of the Cloud as we Know It (and I Feel Fine)"

To quote one of my favorite customers: “We work in technology. And technology breaks.” Servers will fail, databases will crash, Cloud services will go down, someone will mistakenly unplug the wrong thing at your data center (sigh) …It is no fun when the unexpected happens, but it always does.

The Final Ingredient for Success in the Cloud

SaaS providers offer full solutions that hide the complexities of managing resiliency and availability from the customer; Cloud solutions, such as software deployed on EC2, will leverage the available infrastructure components, but proper architecture and design is still necessary for full redundancy and resiliency; installed and managed solutions will be protected to the extent of the resources available (those final 9's can be expensive!)

The final ingredient to being successful with technology in the Cloud is working with providers that are not only are adept at identifying, mitigating and resolving issues, but are also transparent and responsive when things do go wrong. Trust and accountability are just as important as the number of 9’s.