Are Computers Only Human? Cloud Successes and Failures

A Microsoft Azure outage in August proved incredibly frustrating to businesses running their applications in the cloud. A report by David Ramel in the Virtualization Review’s Schwartz Cloud Report argues that computing failures are sometimes going to happen and that users should “deal with it.” Well, sure, it’s unreasonable not to “expect the unexpected” with large IT systems. Unscheduled downtime sucks and should be extraordinarily rare, but no infrastructure is devoid of the potential for errors.

To look at the cloud in terms of a damning, widespread denial of service as occurred with Azure is of course a delusional perspective. The statistics on outages of cloud versus alternatives, in fact, heavily favors the cloud, as described below.

Putting outages aside, although the cloud often seems to be primarily an annoyingly trendy topic (to believe the mainstream press, it is the end-all and be-all of web hosting terminology), it would not be growing so astronomically if it weren’t fulfilling basic business needs: high performance and premium reliability at an affordable cost.

How fast is the cloud growing? 451 Research conducted in-depth interviews with 100 IT professionals in 2013 to gauge cloud adoption in enterprise settings. After months of research, the company compiled its findings to better understand cloud within the global business landscape, publishing the InfoPro Wave 5 Cloud Computing Study. Key findings include the following, as outlined by Forbes:

  • “Let’s get more” – Enterprises that have tried the cloud can’t get enough, with 7 out of 10 organizations that have specific cloud computing budgets upping their spending in that category both in 2013 and 2014.
  • Tech heard ‘round the world – On a worldwide scale, the cloud will expand at a 36% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the next two years, by the end of which it will have hit $20 billion.
  • Open those purse strings – Enterprises spend a median amount of $675,000 on the cloud out of an overall IT budget of $8.2 million. Needless to say, some enterprises have much more sophisticated and far-reaching computing infrastructures. The cloud budget for one firm involved in the study was $125 million.

Is the cloud defined by outages? No, and far from it. A report recently released by Evolve IP revealed that half of organizations that have deployed cloud solutions believe it has served as a preventative mechanism against disasters, acting as a disaster recovery system that underpins business continuity.

Use of the Cloud for Disaster Prevention

Taken out of context, the August report that the lights had gone out unexpectedly at Microsoft Azure probably led some to believe that cloud services can’t be trusted. That’s the opposite of the results of this study, which questioned just under 1300 IT professionals on their company’s cloud deployments. Here is the skinny, as indicated by separate Ramel coverage in Virtualization Review:

  • As with the increased budget findings from the InfoPro study, an overwhelming majority of 7 out of 10 companies consider disaster recovery (DR) as the top advantage of cloud hosting. Amazingly, 50% of companies with active cloud systems said that they had already reaped the rewards of cloud DR. The second and third best traits of the cloud, per the survey, were adaptability and scalability.
  • Philosophically, the cloud looks good: 90% of survey respondents believe that it represents the future of computing. In actual use, 8 out of 10 have one or more cloud environments enabled, and the average firm is running three (3) cloud services.
  • It’s one thing to ask about where tech is headed and another to gauge personal opinion of the technology. At an upper management level, the survey found that 7 out of 10 business leaders had converted to “belief” in the cloud. A somewhat smaller number of middle and low-level managers – 58% – said that they were sold on the cloud, but that number is 5% higher than a survey of the same category of individuals completed in 2013.

A Hard Look at Failure – Statistics Favor the Cloud

In his article on the Azure outage, Ramel referenced data from an IDC study that specifically looks at downtime and its likelihood in cloud and non-cloud settings:

  • Unscheduled downtime is 76% less likely with a cloud service.
  • When outages do occur, response time is twice as long with on-staff IT as it is with a third-party cloud provider.
  • Downtime drops 13 hours per year with a cloud service.

A similar study by Nucleus Research found that “customers can gain significant benefits in availability and reliability” when they choose cloud solutions.

At Superb, we do not accept the idea that unreliability and unpredictability are a natural part of computing environments. While we understand that Ramel was partially joshing with his “deal with it” comment, we know our customers should not have to put up with any nonsense. That’s why all our cloud solutions offer Guaranteed Resources and Guaranteed Performance. Chat now to learn more.

By Kent Roberts

Image Credit: The New York Times