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A Down Week for Datacenter Uptime

This is the kind of news that makes those of us who are fans of cloud computing cringe. No, we're not talking about Microsoft finally putting a price on Azure, which should happen later this month at the Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans.

We're talking about a relative slew of datacenter outages that took place worldwide last week, including an outage, caused by a fire, which brought Microsoft's Bing Travel site down for hours and took out payment system for a solid 12 hours.

These are the "see, I told you so" moments that critics of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service love to point to when they assail the hosted model. And it's hard to argue with them after a week like last week. Granted, internal systems go down in enterprises all the time. But when that happens, companies can call in their own IT folks (or partners) at just about any hour to fix problems and get systems up and running again -- ideally with relatively little disruption. In any case, the company is in control of the situation.

Not so in a hosted model. With cloud computing, SaaS or whatever you want to call it, somebody else is running everything, meaning somebody else has to get a stricken datacenter up and running again before you can get your applications -- and possibly your business -- back online. It's a scary proposition, putting critical business applications in the hands of strangers -- albeit strangers who probably have uptime guarantees in their contracts and are experts at running datacenters.

But downtime nightmares shouldn't scare companies away from the hosted-computing model. First of all, those internal IT people who can come in and fix systems at a moment's notice cost a lot of money -- and most of the time, they're probably not doing seriously critical work. (Sorry, partners, but that's true for many of you who do a lot of that kind of work, too. It's something to think about, not that you haven't thought about it already.)

Plus, although it's nice to have some control over the process of getting systems back up and running, there's no guarantee that internal IT people will be able to fix a problem any more quickly than contracted folks who run a datacenter will. So, despite the occasional relative disaster, cloud computing is still a pretty safe bet, especially given that it's such a massive money-saver compared to running systems on-premises. That's just something to remember in the aftermath of a down week for uptime in datacenters -- and it's something for partners to consider when developing marketing strategies for hosting models.

What are your biggest fears with cloud computing? What are your customers saying about it? Sound off at

Posted by Lee Pender on 07/07/2009 at 1:22 PM


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