Is the Public Cloud Worthy of our Trust?

The Cloud as we all know it, has become such a massive reality in our daily lives that may seem a bit overwhelming at times.  For many people, the Cloud seems to hold a strange, almost magical mystique.  When discussions turn to the Cloud, there is sometimes a hushed reverence that permeates the conversation, something akin to prayer and worship.  For certain individuals, the Cloud evokes a nearly religious devotion, but is the Cloud worthy of such avid devotion or is the Cloud more of a flawed Deity, no less vulnerable than the humans who created it and continue to nurture it today?

Let’s take a quick look at the Cloud’s simple origins.   In its simplest form, the Cloud is merely a server or several servers, sitting in a data center somewhere and connected by intranet for private use or provided for public use via internet.  The Cloud Almighty has been in existence since January 1, 1983, when ARPANET adopted TCP/IP, which took on a more familiar form in 1990 when ARPANET was decommissioned and computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee was credited with inventing the World Wide Web.image - data center - cloud

A private cloud typically provides connectivity between two dedicated sites and is locked down for use by an organization.   Also known as an internal cloud, where all data is protected behind firewalls on the company’s intranet.  A private cloud is a common option for companies with more than one data center and all the hardware and components needed to create a cloud.  All maintenance and updating of infrastructure is the sole responsibility of the company.  Private clouds may offer an increased level of security and there is very little or no sharing of resources with other organizations.

The typical public cloud is a scenario where data is stored in a data center of a service provider and the provider is responsible for management and maintenance of the data center and all related functions.  More and more companies are moving toward the public cloud or a mixture of private/public options.  Some companies feel security may be lacking with the public cloud, however, breaches are rare and your data typically remains separate from others.

Smaller companies may tend to choose a public cloud in their effort to reduce maintenance costs, infrastructure expenses, OPEX and CAPEX.  Larger companies may be inclined to choose a private cloud to maintain greater control and an enhanced sense of security… whether real or perceived.

220px-Dictionnaire_Infernal_-_BehemothWhen it comes to Private or Public Clouds, there is still a preverbal elephant in the room.  This elephant looms large in the psyche of companies of any size, whether large or small.   Cloud Network Outages are huge lumbering Mammoths that represent a catastrophic event no company wants to experience.  Amazon Web Services (AWS), is another behemoth which is the dominant market player in the space.  The AWS idea was conceived as early as 2000, and while the AWS concept began to take shape and was publicly discussed in 2003, and the first customer facing launch took place in 2005. Those individuals religiously devoted to the Public Cloud often place AWS on a very tall pedestal and AWS enjoys an exalted position of respect and dominance in the public cloud arena, but not all is Roses and Tulips in the Kingdom of Cloud.  AWS continues to prick its fingers on the thorns of Network Outages.

The most recent AWS Network Outage occurred in the Northern Virginia region on the morning of February 28th, 2017, as the S3 Team was debugging an issue causing the S3 billing system to progress more slowly than expected.   An employee error took down a large swath of Amazon services for nearly 4 hours.  Another AWS Network Outage took place in Sydney, Australia in June 2016 as massive thunder storms caused AWS EC2 and EBS services to fail and a significant number of prime websites and other online presence were down for 10 hours over a weekend. Since AWS’s inception there have been 7 notable Network Outages.

What conclusions can be drawn about the Public Cloud from events like these?  Some might say that regardless of the problems that exist, there are few inventions that positively influence our lives so profoundly on a daily basis.  Others might say that events like these point to dangerous flaws in the systems that impact our lives and there is much to be concerned about.

Regardless of your perspective of all things Cloud and Internet, one thing is certain, both are here to stay and what the future holds may be significantly different than how it is imagined today.

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