Should Google's Outage Scare CIOs From Cloud Computing? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
5/18/2009
08:12 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Should Google's Outage Scare CIOs From Cloud Computing?

How much - or how little - should CIOs be concerned about whether Google's recent outage reveals fundamental weaknesses with the cloud computing model? Jeff Kaplan of ThinkStrategies offers a couple of sharp perspectives on why the sky's not falling (nor the clouds), and promises to keep the discussion going this week at Interop in Las Vegas.

How much - or how little - should CIOs be concerned about whether Google's recent outage reveals fundamental weaknesses with the cloud computing model? Jeff Kaplan of ThinkStrategies offers a couple of sharp perspectives on why the sky's not falling (nor the clouds), and promises to keep the discussion going this week at Interop in Las Vegas.Noting quite correctly that "the latest outage at Google raises a new round of concerns among IT and business decision-makers who remain uncomfortable relying on third-parties for their day-to-day enterprise application or computing requirements," Kaplan's article on SeekingAlpha.com looks past the soundbites that have been swirling the past several days and focuses on the real issues, including these two points that deserve much more attention than they've been getting:

--"Google reported that its outage was caused by 'human error', which is often at the heart of corporate data center disruptions as well…. As I've stated before, this becomes a quality of support rather than a reliability of service issue." --"I remain convinced that an honest self-assessment by IT and business decision-makers will lead to the realization that their data center reliability, security and performance palls in comparison to today's leading cloud computing vendors. In addition, a thorough evaluation of their time-to-market, flexibility, TCO and ROI would also clearly favor the rapidly evolving SaaS and cloud computing alternatives."

Kaplan's right - but are CIOs and others seeing these two issues with the clarity they deserve? Part of the issue is that if you ask 10 different cloud-computing vendors to define the business they're in, you'll get 10 different answers. And as my cloud-computing-expert colleague John Foley has noted, attempts by the industry to unite to set some common standards have not proven to be very successful.

As Kaplan puts it, "While the SaaS industry has gained broad-based acceptance because of its relatively mature 'packaged' applications, the cloud computing sector still has a long way to go to win an equal level of adherents among mainstream organizations." And while the Google outage was covered extensively across all types of media, CIOs need to see past that buzz and look to the real facts surrounding cloud computing and its performance and reliability.

At Interop, Kaplan said, he'll be attending the Enterprise Cloud Summit and chairing a panel called "Saas, PaaS, and More."

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