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The Sidekick Failure and Cloud Culpability

CmdrTaco posted about 5 years ago | from the lowered-expectations dept.

Data Storage 246

miller60 writes "There's a vigorous debate among cloud pundits about whether the apparent loss of all Sidekick users' data is a reflection on the trustworthiness of cloud computing or simply another cautionary tale about poor backup practices. InformationWeek calls the incident 'a code red cloud disaster.' But some cloud technologists insist data center failures are not cloud failures. Is this distinction meaningful? Or does the cloud movement bear the burden of fuzzy definitions in assessing its shortcomings as well as its promise?"

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Management (3, Interesting)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | about 5 years ago | (#29718647)

It's usually a decision on management's side to not use best practices, despite warnings from the tech dept.

tldr; There's nothing wrong with the technology, just the greedy bastards using it.

Re:Management (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29718659)

As always, cloud computing/hosting/whatever is a vague term used like any other buzz term. I just see it as a platform where the resources should be allocated automatically and the underneath system takes care of having those available.

The same failure points are there. You're just putting the trust and management to someone else. Even if they do have backup plans and certain levels of redundancy, it can always fail. Cloud computing isn't something magical.

“Similarly datacenters fail, get disconnected, overheat, flood, burn to the ground and so on, but these events should not cause any more than a minor interruption for end users. Otherwise how are they different from ‘legacy’ web applications?”

That's because they aren't. The system is just managed by someone else, and its managed for thousands of people at the same time so its cheaper. Kind of like what Akamai has been doing for long with their content delivery network - it's cheaper for the providers because they dont have to build the infrastructure themself, and its cheaper for Akamai because they do it for so many clients.

Re:Management (4, Interesting)

Splab (574204) | about 5 years ago | (#29718799)

Well there is one difference. Cloud computing and virtual servers are to computers what keychains are to keys, it enables you to lose everything at once.

Yes it is highly convienient and more effective to have everything in one place, but so much more fun when you drop your "chain" in the sewer.

Re:Management (5, Insightful)

dkf (304284) | about 5 years ago | (#29719057)

Well there is one difference. Cloud computing and virtual servers are to computers what keychains are to keys, it enables you to lose everything at once.

It's not really a difference. With home-grown datacenters you still have that risk unless you do something like building multiple redundant buildings in different locales and managing some kind of replication and backup strategy. But then all of that stuff is the same with going to a Cloud provider, except you're not having to futz around with the physical facilities yourself.

There's no magic. All we're seeing is stupid people getting burned because they didn't use basic due diligence.

Re:Management (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719159)

Except the problem here is that when a large service goes down in the Cloud, millions of people can be affected.

For example, what if Google has their way with universities integrating with their system (Docs, Gmail, etc.) and Google has the sort of problems this Sidekick failure does? Now not just one university (if they own data center) has lost all of its hosted data, but any university relying on Google is out all the data hosted on the Cloud.

Re:Management (3, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 5 years ago | (#29719479)

True, but how much more money and brain power does Google have to invest in datacenter design and disaster recovery than your local college?

Seriously.. I worked at one.. All our stuff was on "next day parts" from Dell.. We had a single internet connection to the campus, single linux based sendmail email server, etc.

Granted, I had tapes up the wazoo, and could retrieve any file for the past X years, but downtime is still downtime.

Then you have Google, with multiple sites, multiple connections, replication, Load balancers, etc.

Not only do they have more to invest, but when they call up a vendor and say "we are Google, we have an outage, and we need some things from you" I bet those vendors jump a little faster than when a local school IT guy calls them up..

Re:Management (5, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 5 years ago | (#29719869)

This all comes back to the thrust of the OP: whether the apparent loss of all Sidekick users' data is a reflection on the trustworthiness of cloud computing or simply another cautionary tale about poor backup practices.

The simple truth, of course, is that it is both. And the only solution here is the old one: if you want something done properly, you will have to do it yourself. If your data, documents or whatever are in any way important to you, you should not be relying on anyone else to keep them safe. Simple as that, and no excuses.

Re:Management (1)

linear a (584575) | about 5 years ago | (#29719313)

"There's no magic. All we're seeing is stupid people getting burned because they didn't use basic due diligence."

Due diligence becomes attenuated and more difficult to successfully apply. I'm sure the victims heard the same tales of massive backend redundancy that I'm currently hearing from cloud vendors. It's natural that a smaller portion of customers will successfully complete due diligence in a case like this versus for systems under their own control.

Note that this isn't a good excuse (based on the results in this case....).

Re:Management (5, Insightful)

wickerprints (1094741) | about 5 years ago | (#29719577)

To be fair, Sidekick users didn't have a viable means to back up their personal data that was being pulled from Microsoft/Danger servers. I don't think it's reasonable to expect the users to find some hack or unofficial method to copy all their data from their devices. The only blame they could be assigned is that they bought the service being sold. Your criticism would be valid for, say, iPhone users, since the user has a backup stored on their computer. But no such functionality exists for the Sidekick, as far as I am aware.

And as to who is really being burned here.... Obviously not Microsoft/Danger. Microsoft doesn't give two shits about this, since their acquisition of Danger in 2008 was really about cannibalizing their talent for Windows Mobile 7, as the Pink project has shown. Danger is just a shell of its former self--the damage was done long before this latest failure, which I think was an inevitable consequence of the acquisition. The ones who got burned are T-Mobile (for trusting Microsoft to manage Danger, and Danger to maintain a proper backup solution), and of course, the consumers.

The real issue, of course, is that data is always at risk of being lost no matter how, where, or in what amount it is stored. The passage of time guarantees it. But people want to believe in the existence of certainties, in the notion that if something has a 99.9999% reliability, then we can effectively ignore the minuscule probability of failure. But failures happen all the time and there is no such guarantee. We need to rid ourselves of this delusion that data can somehow be made "safe," that risk can be ignored when made small. Cloud computing is just the flavor of the day.

I knew someone who worked at Danger years ago when the company was still fairly new. It was, at the time, an amazing technology. There was nothing like it. They had so much going for them, and there was a lot of good talent working there. One thing that impressed me was how they solved the problem of mobile web browsing. At the time, mobile web browsing seriously sucked ass. It was not only slow, but many sites simply would not load. Danger solved that by re-parsing the sites on their servers so that pages would look good and function properly on your mobile device. It was the best solution until mobile OSes and hardware became powerful and complex enough to support full browsing; and even then, the UI needed to be tightly integrated before browsing became efficient instead of tedious. It's sad to see such a pioneering company wither on the vine.

Re:Management (2, Insightful)

StuartHankins (1020819) | about 5 years ago | (#29719819)

To be fair, Sidekick users didn't have a viable means to back up their personal data that was being pulled from Microsoft/Danger servers. I don't think it's reasonable to expect the users to find some hack or unofficial method to copy all their data from their devices.

Absolutely correct. Wish I had mod points.

Re:Management (3, Insightful)

dFaust (546790) | about 5 years ago | (#29719067)

But if Akamai loses a server, I don't have to repopulate the gigs of data they're hosting for me - it's not lost, it's just no longer on that particular server that died. That's exactly why I consider Akamai to be "the cloud" and why it doesn't side like Danger was. Especially with an infrastructure like Akamai or Google where things are geographically distributed, you just don't hear about servers dying, and you might not even hear about data centers dying (unless it places an unusually high burden somewhere and causes performance issues - but you don't hear about data loss as a result).

Re:Management (1)

joh (27088) | about 5 years ago | (#29719281)

The thing is that "the Cloud" means absolutely nothing in most cases. In almost every single case there're just remote servers storing your data as with every web app and every IMAP server since ages. The word "cloud" is just used to imply that there's something foggy you don't know anything about and to make you think that it can't fail. But of course in fact the data is stored somewhere and if there's no backup and someone wrecks the server your data is gone for good, as it always is in such cases.

I've had not a single case yet where "your data is stored somewhere where you can reach it only over the internet and you have no idea where exactly it is and how safe it is there" couldn't be used instead of "cloud". Using the "cloud" misnomer allows companies to outsource data storage to the cheapest bidder without telling you anything about it and at the same time sounding modern and innovative.

It's the same as speeding in foggy weather: Just because you can't see anything dangerous doesn't mean you're safe. It just means you feel safe as long as nothing is in your way and anything happening to you will come as a big surprise out of nothing.

A real "cloud" would mean distributed and redundant data storage in a network of servers independent of the service providers.

Larry Ellison on cloud computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719831)

As always, cloud computing/hosting/whatever is a vague term used like any other buzz term. I just see it as a platform where the resources should be allocated automatically and the underneath system takes care of having those available.

I like Larry Ellison's (of Oracle) rant on the matter:

there's no debate: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29718671)

you enjoy sucking my cock, particularly after I pull out of your ass and ram my shit-coated member down your mouth and fuck your throat.

Wrong story (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 years ago | (#29718747)

This belongs in the BSA story. At least there it might be modded insightful or funny.

A reason why cloud computing might be hated on SD (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29718681)

With Cloud Computing, those who modify FOSS software do not have to redistribute the code, because they are only providing a service and not a functional program.

This is an unforeseen hole in the bulletproof Gandhi mechanism, so I foresee a quick "GPL V3.1" to close this. And then all is well.

AGPL (5, Informative)

Koohoolinn (721622) | about 5 years ago | (#29718821)

This is an unforeseen hole in the bulletproof Gandhi mechanism, so I foresee a quick "GPL V3.1" to close this.

It already exists. It is called AGPL: []

Re:AGPL (-1, Troll)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | about 5 years ago | (#29718983)

Honestly, who modded the twit that posted that interesting? The AGPL was introduced two years ago.

Re:A reason why cloud computing might be hated on (2, Informative)

vagabond_gr (762469) | about 5 years ago | (#29718913)

It's called Affero GPL []

Re:A reason why cloud computing might be hated on (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719079)

I don't think that has anything to do with it; at least not for me. My main concern with cloud computing is trust. Do I trust someone other than myself to not fuck up and lose all my data? For critical data, the answer is no. If somebody is going to fuck up and lose all my data, it's going to be me. I don't know if all the data on a Sidekick would qualify as critical, but it would certainly be annoying as fuck to lose it all.

Re:A reason why cloud computing might be hated on (3, Interesting)

Jezza (39441) | about 5 years ago | (#29719685)

Mod the parent up!

There are two sides to this (at least). If you're moving your data "to the cloud" you'd expect that "the cloud" is one hell of a lot more reliable than you are. Let's face it, they should be - the economics of scale mean it's a lot cheaper for them to host your data and lots of other's data, than it is for you alone.

But that isn't what's happened in this case, here Microsoft (!) haven't even covered the basics. This is stunning.

So does this call into question "cloud computing" or just Microsoft's "cloud computing"? This is a difficult question to answer, without being able to see for yourself your cloud partner's infrastructure and procedures you can't really be sure... But would anyone make such a foolish mistake? Microsoft have proven that the answer is "yes, if it's Microsoft", the real question is should that be just: "yes"?

I think most of us now want a more hybrid approach, "in the cloud" is nice, but I also want a "local copy".

Then you have to think about the other kind of "lose" where others gain access to data they shouldn't see...

Re:A reason why cloud computing might be hated on (2, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 years ago | (#29719821)

This is an unforeseen hole in the bulletproof Gandhi mechanism, so I foresee a quick "GPL V3.1" to close this. And then all is well.

How is it a hole when people who don't redistribute code aren't required to redistribute the source that created it? If you maintain a local branch of my code and use it to process your data, more power to you. It'd be nice if you did give back your changes, but that wasn't the offer I made to you and I don't have any right to expect it of you. End-user licenses like the AGPL are dangerous hacks that'll get more bad press than they'll make up for with the minor community good they do.

The problems with outsourcing (2, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 years ago | (#29718717)

If you can't trust your outsourcing partner, replace them or bring the work in-house.

Re:The problems with outsourcing (2, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | about 5 years ago | (#29719273)

Trust? All that data's gone without much chance of it being recovered, as in bye-bye.

Do you think that perhaps T-Mobile, or their "trusted partners" might have had a full backup (an IT 101 sort of plan), a mirror or highly available machine (an IT 201 sort of plan), a disaster plan (IT 301), or maybe just an encrypted torrent out there somewhere?


Heads oughta roll. Cloud computing is only as good as you make it; it only represents a server outside of your office's NOC or physical boundaries. Nothing else is guaranteed. In this case, it was a service running on somebody else's host (and not properly done) and so it's not a matter of doubting the cloud, it's a matter of firing an incompetent vendor, then getting ready for the barrage of litigation and shame. Stupid stupid stupid. Put a bell on these guy's necks. I don't want them around me.

Re:The problems with outsourcing (1)

vertinox (846076) | about 5 years ago | (#29719509)

If you can't trust your outsourcing partner, replace them or bring the work in-house.

Trust? I don't think the upper management trusts local IT either.

Really, I don't think it matters who runs the servers or what they call them as long as it is run well.

Just because its outsourced or inhouse or its gold big iron or cloud computinhg doesn't make it good or bad because either way can be run poorly with the wrong administration.

Personally I think things should be done in house merely for moral issues bit business speaking an incompetent admin is going to mess up things whether he works for the outsource company or directly for you.

Re:The problems with outsourcing (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | about 5 years ago | (#29719815)

How CAN you trust them? Any big corporation offering those services are after only one thing: profit. And to get it, they WILL cut corners. Doesn't everyone? But in this case you'll have no idea where they cut short, and no idea where you're unsafe, and how much downtime you might have if something goes wrong.

I'm sorry, but the main issues with Cloud Computing aren't technological, they're issues of trust and reliability of the human, financial and legal factors at work. And when it's you vs Big Corp, you'll lose every single time.

For the love of God the company is called "Danger" (4, Funny)

syntap (242090) | about 5 years ago | (#29718733)

Didn't that throw up any red flags for ANYONE?

Re:For the love of God the company is called "Dang (2, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 years ago | (#29718815)

I thought the same thing about "Microsoft".

Okay guys, that joke's done, let's get on with our lives.

Re:For the love of God the company is called "Dang (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29719003)

I never ever heard of Microsoft prior to 1992 (first time I used Windows 3). Prior to that the world revolved around IBM, Apple, and Commodore. Funny how fast things can change, and a small company can leverage itself to the top of the heap.

Re:For the love of God the company is called "Dang (4, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | about 5 years ago | (#29718853)

Didn't that throw up any red flags for ANYONE?

I was a Sidekick user from 4/2004 until 10/2008. There had been only one 'catastrophic' failure in that time that left Sidekick users without data service for an extended period. Danger produced one of the best mobile devices, which in many ways is still better than anything out there even though the OS and devices that utilize it (the various Sidekick models that exist these days) is quite a bit outdated compared to devices like the iPhone.

I miss my Sidekick immensely. I loved true multitasking, a fully capable QWERTY keyboard, and incredible battery life. Unfortunately it didn't sync well with calendaring software, didn't keep up with music playing, and is now partially controlled by Microsoft. There have been immense trade offs with moving to the iPhone but based on my main reason for owning an iPhone (I ride the bus and enjoy the music/video player and screen size) it was the right choice for me.

That said, "cloud computing" is something which usually works (and did, in the case of the Sidekick since 2002). I don't think that this is a proven warning sign that "cloud computing" isn't as reliable as everyone believes, I just think it's proof that companies need to do a much better job of ensuring data integrity than they could have ever imagined before.

Will I stop using Flickr, Google products, and other future "cloud" devices/software because of this? No. I am smart enough, as a computer savvy end-user, to keep my own backups of my data but I do believe people need to become better educated in what can and will happen as we move to the model we have slowly done in the last 10 years.

Re:For the love of God the company is called "Dang (0, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29719175)

>>>I miss my Sidekick immensely.

For some reason this sentence suddenly reminded me of this youtube video of two sisters arguing over a Sidekick (fastforward to 1:40) - []

This video is also fun to watch []

Re:For the love of God the company is called "Dang (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29719259)

Tip: If you want to link to specific part in youtube video, you can add #t=1m3s etc on it, ie []

Also adding &hd=1 gives hq/hd version.

Re:For the love of God the company is called "Dang (1)

NoYob (1630681) | about 5 years ago | (#29719311)

Didn't that throw up any red flags for ANYONE?

The company was probably named after someone's middle name. Like Austin _Danger_ Powers.

I'm sure it's no reflection on the software.

Cloud Failure (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29718739)

I know my songs, videos, and other important files are backed-up across triple drives. I don't know if the same is true if I stored them online, and this major failure of Sidekick demonstrates I'm right not to trust them.

OT: Your sig line (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 years ago | (#29718787)

According to two separate studies, 2500 song downloads == just 1 album lost sale

According to multiple separate anecdotes, lousy music = multiple separate lost sales.

Re:Cloud Failure (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29718805)

Also with ISPs like Comcast imposing 250 gig limits, why on earth would I want to offload my information across the net? It makes more sense to *minimize* the data transfer to avoid overage fees, not increase it.

Re:Cloud Failure (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 5 years ago | (#29718941)

While true, I'd say that if you're unhappy with a 250gb cap, do your darndest to at least come close to it each month (though in reality if you're unhappy with it you're likely coming close to or breaking it each month anyways). The only thing that will raise that number (or cause them to upgrade infrastructure allowing them to raise it) is if they see their average monthly consumption getting to close to that number. If their average monthly consumption is 2.5GB (I know people whose monthly bandwidth stays at that level or less), then they'll never increase a 250GB limit. If it's 227GB, you can bet they'll scramble to up it.

Do your part to drag that number higher :).

FWIW though, my ISP is a smaller outfit (Spirit Telecom) and has yet to impose any bandwidth restrictions that I'm aware of, though checking my router's logs I personally only come in at 80 to 125GB per month.

Re:Cloud Failure (1)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about 5 years ago | (#29719319)

According to my Tomato router (Linksys WRT54GL) I'm using well over 100GB/mo, and all I do online is watch videos (youtube etc), a pretty throttled back torrent client for a few linux distros/month, then leave them up to help out, plus wife has a pc she does email/IM and some watching youtube.. I'm on Cox and until very recently I was always kind of holding my breath waiting for a note from them telling me I was over their 40GB cap.. Now I understand they've raised them..

Re:Cloud Failure (0, Flamebait)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29718883)

I know my songs, videos, and other important files are backed-up across triple drives.

Dude. Now close your torrent client and go out.

Re:Cloud Failure (3, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29719227)

No it's cold. Besides how am I going to watch these latest episodes of Stargate and Eureka if I'm outside playing with the squirrels and birds?

Re:Cloud Failure (2, Insightful)

slim (1652) | about 5 years ago | (#29719283)

I know my songs, videos, and other important files are backed-up across triple drives. I don't know if the same is true if I stored them online, and this major failure of Sidekick demonstrates I'm right not to trust them.

That depends entirely on the online storage service you use. If your contract says the files are backed up across triple drives, then you've a right to expect that they are. If your contract doesn't say that, then you shouldn't expect it. Simple.

Now, I'd argue that any cloud service worthy of the name ought to have very robust mirrored storage. But since there's no legal definition of the word, you'd better read the contract.

Who do you think will get fired over this? (1)

TheMaTrIxBEL (1269288) | about 5 years ago | (#29718767)

The managers responsible for not implementing the backups or the techs maintaining the infrastructure? My bet is on the little people.

Re:Who do you think will get fired over this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719149)

Why do you think it wasn't deliberate? Blowing up Sidekick data is a small price to pay if it scares people away from cloud computing and gets them back into the Microsoft ecosystem.

Cloud Computing (1)

b3x (586838) | about 5 years ago | (#29718777)

No matter where you go, there it is.

Re:Cloud Computing (1)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29718959)

I've experienced cloud computing myself. It wasn't as cool as I thought tho. A week ago I was traveling and the airplane was landing but I couldn't see out - but there I was, happily computing in the cloud (until the stewardess came to tell me shutdown the freaking laptop during landing)

Semantics (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | about 5 years ago | (#29718829)

In the end, it doesn't really matter if it's a data center failure or a "cloud" failure. It matters who the user blames. And if you trumpet yourself as "in the cloud", and then that cloud rains on your consumer, whomever is at fault, ultimately it's you, the provider, who has a problem.

Has there never been a non-cloud data loss? (4, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | about 5 years ago | (#29718831)

Just like people lose their stuff on personal hard drives when not backed up, they will lose cloud data when not backed up. Both kinds of computing have merits, and long term persistence of data is not automatic with either. Most people do not place THAT hard a value on backups of their cell phones. They typically sync with a PC anyway. But any business that doesn't have weekly reliable offsite backups of their fundamental assets should be sued by shareholders/customers for irresponsibility weather they use cloud or not.

Re:Has there never been a non-cloud data loss? (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 5 years ago | (#29719495)

We take these sorts of catastrophic failures more seriously. If my data is on my computer, I know that I'm responsible for my own damn data - if I don't back it up, it's my own fault. But more importantly, when I lose everything, you don't care. If I'm holding millions of peoples' data, you suddenly care a lot more - especially if you're one of the people.

My point is, with all that data they damn well better be backing up properly, because it's out of my control. If I don't back up properly, I had the option and (hopefully) know the trade-offs.

Re:Has there never been a non-cloud data loss? (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 years ago | (#29719499)

the hype about "cloud computing" is that there are never any failures and all your data is always going to be safe. at least that's the way the tech rags hype it.

Re:Has there never been a non-cloud data loss? (1)

vertinox (846076) | about 5 years ago | (#29719575)

Just like people lose their stuff on personal hard drives when not backed up, they will lose cloud data when not backed up. Both kinds of computing have merits, and long term persistence of data is not automatic with either.

Neither RAID or Cloud Computing is a backup solution. Its merely a way for more uptime and availability of data.

If by chance the user overwrites or deletes the data on a RAID or an online storage service... Then you've lost your data just the same as if the server crashed.

Need more info (2, Interesting)

LS1 Brains (1054672) | about 5 years ago | (#29718847)

Can't form a complete picture without an inside look at what really happened. Danger/Microsoft obviously isn't going to just come out and tell us the who or how, they have enough egg on their face as it is.

We can throw hunches around all day long, but it all boils down to human error somewhere - or more likely, a series of errors. Perhaps backups weren't properly taken. Perhaps they were performing a platform shift to .NET and something went awry. Perhaps a dev was tapping out a query and forgot part of his where clause, irreversibly damaging an entire table. Perhaps the cleaning crew poured milk in the disk cluster. These are all quite valid possibilities, which singly probably wouldn't be an issue.

I don't think there's any argument for instability or reliability issues with a "cloud" platform, any more than one could form an argument for a traditional arrangement. If the system as a whole isn't managed and maintained, you are at a very high risk for disaster. The only universal truth is things WILL fail, and you have to plan for them.

What IS cloud computing? (2, Insightful)

dFaust (546790) | about 5 years ago | (#29718901)

Personally, I always interpreted cloud computing as software that's running on a number of boxes of which the number can fluctuate without being meaningful (obviously there are performance implications depending on the overall load and number of boxes, but one box going down doesn't inherently bring down the system). One nice thing is these boxes can be geographically distributed as well - so when one data center gets nuked, the others are safe. Now, I realize geographic distribution isn't a requirement but even still, the press release says the data loss is due to a "server failure." Not a data center failure, but the apparent failure of a single server.

So is this really even "the cloud"? Does that mean that Geocities was "the cloud" or that every web host out there is "the cloud" because they've got my data running on a single machine? I certainly never interpreted it that way, but I'm no expert on the matter. It seems like if this data was in "the cloud" that it could have all been retrieved off of another machine somewhere. Perhaps for some customers those other machines might not yet be completely synced with very recent updates, but that would affect a small amount of data for a subset of customers.

Re:What IS cloud computing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29718979)

The way most tech journalists use "the cloud" these days is effectively a synonym for "teh internets". It's something remote that they don't really understand.

Re:What IS cloud computing? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719203)

Cloud computing is where your data goes up in smoke.

AC for a reason.

Re:What IS cloud computing? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 5 years ago | (#29719237)

Cloud computing is just what it sounds like; something meant to obscure whats really going on. Nobody seems to know if it was a single server or the data center. And thats the risk of the cloud... you won't really know whats going on at the other end.

So while they'll say "let us manage it" they'll really do that same things you did anyway; keep only as many servers as you need, and they may more may not be backing up your data. Oh, and your data doesn't even need to be lost, just unavailable because the internet isn't as reliable as everyone would like you to think.

Re:What IS cloud computing? (1)

mick88 (198800) | about 5 years ago | (#29719299)

I think more people should be asking your question: "what is cloud computing?". Because, in my opinion, it's easy to hide behind the name "cloud" - hell the name itself implies obfuscation and mystery.

But the real answer is that the "cloud" just is an internet-facing datacenter housing services or data. The trustworthyness (is that a word?) of the cloud is really dependent on the provider of the cloud. Some clouds are more redundant, resilient, and secure than others. That's important to consider when you're evaluating a move to the cloud. You _need_ to know where the data lives & how it's being backed up / secured. The term "cloud" implies it, but doesn't ensure it.

The cloud is like the internet - you could think of it as one giant nebulous entity, but in reality it's a bunch of independently owned & run services. just like AOL != the internet, geocities != the cloud. But there is a relationship there.

To me, this story about the "cloud failure" is like having someone's local ISP have an outage, then cry about how the Internet isn't reliable.

Re:What IS cloud computing? (4, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | about 5 years ago | (#29719477)

We'll, I was hoping to just google cloud vs. grid vs. distributed vs. cluster vs. etc. computing, but there doesn't seem to be much official-sounding distinction out there. Which means if we start our own thread here it might become definitive!

"cloud" computing: fluffy term used by people who really don't know anything other than that they run their applications from a web page and their data appears to be stored on the web because they can access it from more than one web browser.

"hosted" / "server farm" computing: buying server resources from someone who has a real datacenter who tries to take care of your hardware. You access all of your data over the network "cloud". Redundancy & support varies based on pricing & services.

"grid" / "utility" computing: computing infrastructure where you should be able to simply scale up CPU, data, etc. resources for your operation simply by throwing money at turning on more boxes. You don't necessarily need to share it with others, though.

"cluster" computing: a computing system made up of more or less independent, generally homogeneous nodes, where problems can be partitioned out. Generally has some form of redundancy so you don't lose work when a single node dies, but probably won't survive a data center failure.

"distributed" computing: special applications that can be farmed out to the net to break parts of computing or storage across a heterogeneous network of computers distributed over many locations. Ideally it's written to be highly redundant and tolerate faults such as nodes joining / leaving the cluster.

As far as reliability goes, the TIA data center tiers seems to be the only common way of talking about maintaining "business continuity". I've read through it briefly, and can somewhat paraphrase the intent (mildly inaccurately, mostly because the standard itself is kinda loose and not defined in too much detail with regards to servers) as:

Tier 1 "basic" : You have a room for servers with a door to keep random people from tripping over the plugs. Maybe you have a UPS on your server so it can do a graceful shutdown without data loss when the power or AC goes out.

Tier 2 : You have your stuff in racks with a raised floor for air conditioning and some wire racks hanging from the ceiling for cable management.

Tier 3 : You have redundant UPS's and RAIDs, CRACs, network links, and stuff, so you can make repairs when common things break without turning off the system (typically anything with moving parts or high currents, like power supplies, fans, disks, batteries needs to be hot-swappable). Which means you should also have some sort of monitoring and alert system so you know when that stuff actually fails so you can replace it before the redundant components also fail. This is intended to reach 24x7 availability with high uptimes... , maybe 3-5 nines.

Tier 4 : Like Tier 3, but certified for mission-critical / life-critical use, like in hospitals and maybe for airplanes and stuff. It should survive prolonged power outages (so you have a diesel generator with a day or two worth of fuel.)

Unfortunately, it just covers build specs for individual data centers, so it doesn't really cover other business continuity things like maintaining offsite backups so you can somewhat easily rebuild from scratch if a natural disaster takes out one of your data centers or something. But it's kind of different worlds of IT between designing facilities and architecting "cloud" services, which unfortunately don't seem to communicate or collaborate as much as they should to reach the kinds of "distributed grid of redundant load-sharing data centers" configurations we'd expect.

Meta-cloud, anyone? (2)

Fjodor42 (181415) | about 5 years ago | (#29718911)

To my mind, this failure just goes to show that what people call clouds are merely the mainframes of yesterdecades... For the cloud to become "THE" cloud, the providers need to cooperate to replicate data across their different implementations, such that when one provider suffers an unforeseen crash of unforeseen magnitudes, the data is til there in the "real" (in this definition) cloud.

Sure, it would take no small amount of convincing to get the management drones to accept this, but I should think that a cost/benefit analysis that includes catastrophic failure would be somewhat persuasive...

Re:Meta-cloud, anyone? (3, Interesting)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | about 5 years ago | (#29719009)

If someone tells you that they can cheaply prevent catastrophic failure, expect a catastrophic failure. Nothing can correct something like this, which involved an error propagating to the backups.

Re:Meta-cloud, anyone? (1)

Fjodor42 (181415) | about 5 years ago | (#29719221)

Incidentally, that is my point exactly! Distributing the data across multiple providers would be a no-no to the providers involved, but if they realised that no one provider can prevent catastrophic failures might persuade them to at least think about it...

Re:Meta-cloud, anyone? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719599)

Nothing can correct something like this, which involved an error propagating to the backups.

If you can instantly corrupt your "backups", they're not backups. If you're doing anything serious and you don't have offline copies at a remote location going back at least a few months, you're doing something very wrong.

Re:Meta-cloud, anyone? (1)

linear a (584575) | about 5 years ago | (#29719741)

Not strictly true. Couple of alternatives that could completely or partially remediate after the fact. Partial - static archive copies (e.g., tape) Complete - those data tracking systems that note all changes to blocks and let you restore back to a point in time. Not 100%, since nothing it, but you can get as close to 100% as you care to pay for.

Not a cloud, so why the fuss? (2, Informative)

mangastudent (718064) | about 5 years ago | (#29718921)

A single data center apparently without even a geographically distinct failover site is about as far as I can imagine from being a "cloud". Old fashioned best practices in the form of having two or more sites each capable of handling the entire load would have prevented this particular mess, let alone classic cloud approaches like that of the Google File System [] (GFS) which keeps at least three copies of a file's contents.

(Granted, if you're storing vital stuff in GFS or Amazon S3 [] you still have a logical single point of failure (e.g. a mistaken delete command) and therefore you aren't freed from the duty of doing your own backups, but that's a separate issue.)

Or we could just say that trusting Microsoft for anything is relatively unwise compared to other "higher tier" companies. Or that if you're depending on a service provider that's massively laying off staff you need to take action before something seriously ugly happens, because it likely will.

Your data is your responsibility. (5, Insightful)

zerofoo (262795) | about 5 years ago | (#29718923)

As a wise auditor once told me:

You can outsource the work, but you can not outsource the responsibility.

If your data is important to you - you must back it up, and you must test your backups.

The end.


Assumptions (4, Insightful)

eagl (86459) | about 5 years ago | (#29718925)

Just because you're paying someone to store your data doesn't mean they care about that data as much as you do... That's one of the two big problems with cloud computing that can't be solved by technology. First, nobody cares about your data as much as you do. Second, nobody will protect your data (ie. control it's distribution and prevent unauthorized changes) to the level you find appropriate.

It's usually a good idea to avoid using broad generalities (like I just did), but it seems like in general it would be a bad idea to let someone else be the sole keeper of anything even remotely important or sensitive. There are exceptions, but those seem to be internal to a company (ie. the company runs it's own cloud and has all employees use it). Or military/government applications where centralized security and backup can keep user errors from becoming a real danger to the organization beyond "help I lost my email!".

It's the backup stupid (2, Insightful)

trybywrench (584843) | about 5 years ago | (#29718933)

I think the key here is was it only T-Mobile's data that was lost or was every customer of the "cloud" affected. If it was only T-Mobile's data than the issue is T-Mobile's backup policy, if it was "cloud"-wide than it's an issue with the "cloud" provider. In either case, I don't think you can paint the entire "cloud" concept as unstable. Cloud computing is really just a dynamic datacenter with all the usual weak links and issues present in a traditional metal datacenter.

Not a cloud disaster, not a "data center" disaster (3, Interesting)

TheLoneGundam (615596) | about 5 years ago | (#29718939)

Leaving aside the fact that a "data center" could consist of two servers under Mabel's desk, this is not a "data center" disaster, nor is it a cloud catastrophe.

This a contract and contract management failure: the contract with the outsource was probably written without specifying that they must do the backups, AND no one established any sort of audit (formal or informal) test to ensure that there _were_ backups being taken and that the outsourcer was performing according to the contract.

Too often, the MBA doing the contract thinks "there, that's handled" once they've gotten all the signatures on the dotted line. "There, backups are handled now" he thinks, because many business folk (not ALL, I don't think it's fair to generalize that far) see these kinds of things as milestones, rather than ongoing processes to be managed.

Re:Not a cloud disaster, not a "data center" disas (1)

R2.0 (532027) | about 5 years ago | (#29719853)

"This a contract and contract management failure: the contract with the outsource was probably written without specifying that they must do the backups, AND no one established any sort of audit (formal or informal) test to ensure that there _were_ backups being taken and that the outsourcer was performing according to the contract.

Too often, the MBA doing the contract thinks "there, that's handled" once they've gotten all the signatures on the dotted line. "There, backups are handled now" he thinks, because many business folk (not ALL, I don't think it's fair to generalize that far) see these kinds of things as milestones, rather than ongoing processes to be managed."

That goes for a lot more than outsourcing. Construction contracts are a good example.

- In the perfect world, all the subcontractors do their work in accordance with the contract, and project management consists of making sure the procedures are followed.

- In the almost perfect world, sometimes subcontractors don't do their work in accordance with the contract, so you write provisions in on addressing changes to the work and non-performance. The PM is still making sure procedures are followed, but now there are more of them and are more complex.

- In the real world, the PM monitors subcontractor performance and addresses problems as they come up. Why? Because 2 weeks before a building opening is too late to discover a contractor is 2 months behind.

The Cloud is Just a Big Mainframe (4, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#29718987)

When you cut through the "cloud", if you look into the center of things, you see that the so-called modern "cloud" computing environment is a giant computer(s), surrounded by high powered priestly geeks, doling out resources to everyone, completely centralized. The priests have some new tricks to entertain the masses with, but there's nothing fundamentally different between cloud computing and IBM's vision of computing in the 1960s.

Re:The Cloud is Just a Big Mainframe (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 5 years ago | (#29719335)

I wish I had mod points because that is the best summation of "cloud" computing I have read yet. Every few years some technological development causes this computing paradigm to be brought up as the "new thing" in computing. Every time this happens there are all these people talking about how it is the "wave of the future" and that all computing will go that way. After a few years, people realize that it has the same limitations that caused it to be rejected except for those limited industries and applications where it is a good idea. Of course, most of those were already using the old way of doing this and only move to this where the new implementation is an improvement over the old way.
There are always companies who massively push this "new" approach because it is a great way to guarantee a steady income stream

Re:The Cloud is Just a Big Mainframe (2, Insightful)

natoochtoniket (763630) | about 5 years ago | (#29719681)

There is one difference.

In previous decades, for the most part, the company that operated the computing center considered the data to be valuable, and took great care to prevent data loss. They knew that the hardware could fail, and so they made multiple copies of each data file. They did backups, and they checked and tested the backups. Most even stored some copies off-site to hedge against the possibility of catastrophic loss of the entire data center.

At present time, many young people have never seen data loss. Many people do not realize that hardware failure is even possible. If they make backups, they rarely check or test the fidelity or reliability of those backups. Those same people are administering the data center operations. Managing the disk farm, replacing failed mirrors, and making backups of customers data, are all activities that are part of the service. As far as many of the MBA types are concerned, all of those are just costs to be minimized.

A single disk might have a MTBF of 30 years. But a system that uses ten thousand disks will have a MTBF of about a day. (On average, a disk will fail somewhere in the system, every day.) RAID systems do not eliminate the issue, because simultaneous disk failure is possible. And a power-supply failure, fire, explosion, software failure, or employee can kill a whole bunch of disks all at once.

In my own organization, I want to know where my data is. I want mirrored disks to minimize the operational effects of common hardware failure, and off-line/off-site backups so we can stay in business after an uncommon failure. I want to review the backup schedule. I want regular verification of backup status. I want periodic audits of the backups, to be sure they really exist and that they can really be read. And, when the data is vital to the continuance of my business, that verification and auditing must not be outsourced.

Whenever your MBAs want to cut the cost of doing backups, you really should check with the underwriter of your business-continuation insurance.

It all depends on the meaning of 'failure'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29718997)

Seems like we've heard that sort of thing before and look how that turned out

Redundancy scales (1)

rpp3po (641313) | about 5 years ago | (#29719005)

What has this got to do with the "cloud"? If your data is critical enough, do it in house or mirror/slave/backup across two or more vendors. The probability of chain failure at one vendor's site alone is much higher than when you use several. The required isolation and separation of your components will also benefit your overall architecture.

No true scotsman (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | about 5 years ago | (#29719007)

This is awfully convenient. Something that at least to my eyes looks a lot like a cloud crashes. Cloud pundits announce:

"if it loses your data - it's not a cloud".

So if Amazon's S3 ever fails horribly and loses everybody's data, then it wasn't a cloud either.

Re:No true scotsman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719345)

At this point, for S3, complete data loss would require the physical destruction or seizure of the contents of buildings in 3 distinct states.

Or, you can encrypt your data inside S3 and misplace the keys...

Re:No true scotsman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719793)

That depends on how big a failure was required to lose everyone's data. If failure in a single geographic location loses any more than an hour or so (frequency of geographic duplication can be a contract-specified item, of course), then it's not a cloud. It's an organization of data centers all under the same billing company.

There is a HUGE difference (1)

sribe (304414) | about 5 years ago | (#29719025)

That difference being that when you're doing things in your own data center, your own people can evaluate what's actually being done. With cloud computing you cannot do that. In both cases you have similar tensions between thoroughness and cost, but in the the one your company gets to make the decisions and verify that they're carried out, in the other you do not.

Is the distinction meaningful? (2, Insightful)

FauxReal (653820) | about 5 years ago | (#29719053)

But some cloud technologists insist data center failures are not cloud failures. Is this distinction meaningful?

Do you think the customer will want to argue semantics with you after you've lose their data?

An epic fail, and missed lessons (so far) (4, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | about 5 years ago | (#29719103)

I'm a TMO subscriber, and I love them, so this is painful. And my sister-in-law is a longtime Sidekick user, so she's in a special agony.

But T-Mobile is in a potentially no-win situation. They obviously have to believe Danger/Microsoft that they have good processes to avoid and recover from such failures. They didn't, and now TMO is probably going to take the hit. On one hand, they should - if the service is important, take responsibility and ensure management. On the other hand, they have good assurances, so hey, how much is enough?

BlackBerry users, you should take note. Rim differs only in scale. Ahd, you hope, depth of resilience. Not that RIM hasn't had outages, though not total failure yet.

TMO may have to tell their Sidekick users to be prepared for the inevitable restore, and of course, work with Danger/Microsoft to re-establish service (even though they don't provide service, D/M does), and of course some money compensation no matter how inadequate.

And maybe offer them shiny new myTouch3Gs to give the disillusioned Sidekick users an option with a marginally better track record.

No, wait, that isn't right. I've had to wipe my G1 every update, and some apps don't have a way to save data. They just don't.

I'm glad I never got on the Sidekick train, but I have no hope that this won't some day hit me. Do you suppose the next major Sidekick update will include data backup? :)

Unauthorized backup (1)

thijsh (910751) | about 5 years ago | (#29719129)

Didn't Paris Hilton already find a backup solution for this?

Cloud failure? Microsoft failure. (2, Insightful)

RR (64484) | about 5 years ago | (#29719141)

This is a service run by Microsoft. Microsoft is a bit hostile to consumers. It would be ironic and sad if Microsoft's failure to maintain the Sidekick service gets blamed on the faceless "Cloud" and it hurts Microsoft's competitors.

Control and failures (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 years ago | (#29719155)

People don't like (potential) failures that are out of their control. According to statistics, my data on my personal HDD or phone is more likely to fail than data on an average "cloud" storage array, but I can keep my HDDs and phone from harm and monitor and test backups. Same idea with automobiles versus airplanes: cars are supposedly more dangerous, but we're each our own pilot. Airplane crashes are scary partly because of the size, but also because in an emergency, we know there's nothing we can do.

Vaporous Program or Data? (1)

Atraxen (790188) | about 5 years ago | (#29719161)

It seems to me that the issue lies in whether the data pieces are on the cloud, or if just the programs are. If I lose the ability to edit a Word document from Office-For-Cloud but I have the file stored locally, I grumble that 'the idiots who run the thing' broke the program, and wait for the 'smart guy white knights' to come fix it for them. But in this case I'm holding those bits (exclusively, or a copy) so I know the data are safe. Nuke the server from orbit, for all I care - I'm annoyed that I lost the ability to continue working, but I've only lost time (bad enough, I know...) Downtime length and frequency becomes the only factors to my unhappiness

If the whole thing is on the cloud without a user-held copy, my SuperImportantLifeWork.doc can turn into vapor if the worst case happens. Now, we add a new factor - what files I lost, and what's involved in regenerating them. This is the predominate factor in my user unhappiness - phone numbers are hard enough to pull together again for many of us, but when we expand that to everything else on the phones (or extrapolate to what may eventually be on-cloud - pictures, documents, schedules, patient data, etc.) these losses become more catastrophic.

In the end, we usually hear about the same set of factors being important for 'good' backups - different physical hardware, offsite, different power system, geographically-separate, etc., in something like that order (depending on data, usage, etc.) These companies really need to make sure that the user has the opportunity to implement these factors by maintaining a complete (or optionally partial) copy of the data local-to-user.

predictably doomed (3, Insightful)

jipn4 (1367823) | about 5 years ago | (#29719181)

Danger held your data hostage from the start and didn't provide backup. Then, when Microsoft took them over, it was clear that they were going to mess with the service and servers. No backup + Microsoft mucking with the servers = kiss your data goodbye.

But that's no more an indictment of hosted services or "cloud computing" than a Windows BSOD is an indictment of desktop computing. Microsoft screwed up, and quite predictably, too.

"if it loses your data - it's not a cloud". (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | about 5 years ago | (#29719191)

Just define away your problems. ROFL.

If You Want Something Done Right! (2, Insightful)

Prototerm (762512) | about 5 years ago | (#29719193)

Why on Earth would you trust your valuable data (and if it wasn't valuable to you, why keep it in the first place?) to someone else, someone who doesn't answer to the same people you do? I have always thought that "the cloud" is an epic fail waiting to happen. As a concept, it makes no sense. It's a scheme worthy of Professor Harold Hill himself.

You want your data safe? You want it backed up properly? Don't want to lose it? Then put it on your own hardware and take care of it yourself. Don't leave it to someone else to save your bacon when something goes wrong. Because, in the end, they don't care about you. You're just a monthly fee to them, and the agreement/contract/whatever you signed with them absolves them of all responsibility.

To the customer, it doesn't matter (1)

s.d. (33767) | about 5 years ago | (#29719197)

The people running the cloud and the data center can bicker till the cows come home, but to the customer, someone says, "trust me, I can let you run your apps and store your data better than if you did it yourself," and then *poof*, it's all gone. Since the customer only interfaces with the company managing the cloud services, the customer sees it as a cloud services failure.

If the cloud company wants to tell all their customers, "It wasn't our fuck-up, it was this other company that we pay to store your data," that's kind of a cop-out move in my book, but ok. However, since the customer will still see you the data center people as working for the cloud company (since it likely approached them and sold them the services as itself, not as "a team of companies X, Y, and Z working together, each doing specific tasks as defined below,"), the cloud company still screwed up and the customer is going to take their business somewhere else next time.

Definition of terms (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719233)

AC'ing due to rumor and innuendo, and completely unconfirmed insider info:

There's 3 terms being interchangably thrown around as "Cloud" here, so let's back up and make sure we're all talking about the same thing.

  1. Managed hosting - Traditional "the hosting provider owns the box and runs your code on it" outsourcing.
  2. Cloud hosting - A large cluster of virtual machines running on a platform that 100% abstracts hardware, such as vmotion, combined with per-minute billing and web-based provisioning. A marketing term coined by Amazon for their hosting service. This is insanely lucrative, by the way.
  3. Offsite storage managed for you by a service provider, typically built on resold managed hosting or cloud hosting.

This is clearly a failure of cloud definition 3. So the question here is: Should you ever trust your data to a single outside provider? Of course not. Putting all your eggs in one basket has been a bad idea re: storage for as long as we've had computers. The first rule is always MAKE BACKUPS. You don't trust your disk, you don't trust your backup disk, you don't trust your live data, you don't trust someone else to back up your live data. The pitch for cloud has never been "We'll keep your data safe." It's been "We'll make your data available."

I'm going to come down on the side of two bad practices: First, T-Mobile made it very, very difficult to get your personal data off of a SK. It was a conscious business decision, designed to keep the barrier to migration onto other platforms / carriers high enough that the average celebrity SK owner wouldn't bother. Second, scuttlebutt is that T-Mob/Danger/MS lost all of this data because they brought in an outside consultant to upgrade the microcode on a SAN controller, which went wrong, leadingto a cascade failure.

If true, this means that a national carrier with hundreds of thousands of users' worth of data, if not millions, did not have a DR site available. If all the information was on a single storage array, then they didn't even have segregated databases on physically independent storage hardware.

That's a failure of architecture, a failure of engineering, and a failure of management. There are known best practices here when dealing with customer data, and a failure of this scale indicates that T-Mobile/Danger followed none of them. I simply can't think of a single reason as to why they're unable to restore from an offsite backup, unless those backups doesn't exist.

Sort of (2, Insightful)

Kirby (19886) | about 5 years ago | (#29719255)

Well, any time you're storing data in a central place, you have a greater consequence of failure. That's a downside of "cloud computing", or any web application that stores data in a database too.

The alternative approach is everyone to have a local version of their data, which will be lost by individuals all the time but not by everyone all at once.

Obviously, if you have a server that's a single point of failure for your company, and you botch a maintenance, something went very wrong. And not having a backup - it seems strange for a company that's been around the block a few times and has big resources behind it. You have to write this off as more of a specific failure and not a failure of the concept of storing data on a remote server.

I do have a good friend that works for Danger - I really don't envy the week he must be having.

Sidekicks lack non-volatile storage (1)

James McP (3700) | about 5 years ago | (#29719331)

That's the real killer. Even if you had all your data loaded on the phone, lose power and poof! With no mechanism to make local backups, you're utterly at the mercy of the cloud.

I've got a Pre, which is a cloud device, but if my battery dies the same time as the remote servers my data's safe for quite a while. Once the battery recharges I can get one of the sync apps to offload my data. If I were more paranoid I'd get one now but I try to make my own archives straight from Google, webmail, et al.

Clouds are unaccontable, and that's their weakness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719457)

"No, I'm saying that cloud storage services are engineered to tolerate failure."

Oh, really? Take a completely new, mostly proprietary set of code managing a huge datacenter, and I'm supposed to -assume- these clouds are engineered to tolerate failure?

The lesson of the Sidekick failure isn't a failure of "cloud computing", or of "bad backups", or of "old datacenters". As usual, everybody misses the real problem here. It's a disturbing reminder that reliability is completely dependent on people that you are hoping are running these networks correctly.

That's where the Cloud services fail. The difference between a cloud and running my own server is that I know when my own server is being run correctly, because I can check everything on it and physically inspect and audit the datacenter it's placed in. The Cloud services promise that they do the same, but all I can do is trust them, because their process is completely transparent to me.

People need to start demanding proof that these "Clouds" are being run correctly, and that's the hallmark difference between good engineers that know how servers work and fat nerds that jump on the hype bandwagon, becoming apologists for big companies that I hope are receiving bribes for their blind and unquestioning loyalty.

As for your comment on "occasional blackouts", we run millions of dollars through our company. Our servers should have NO blackouts, at all. With a good server cluster and a real datacenter with generators and redundant internet connections, this is a very achievable goal.

Cloud Computing (4, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 5 years ago | (#29719537)

The best part of TFA is the comment below from their version of an A/C:

Cloud architecture shards data

In this case it certainly did.

TOS (3, Funny)

ei4anb (625481) | about 5 years ago | (#29719559)

The TOS probably made the users aware that "your data is in Danger" so they can't complain now :-)

Bottom line, for me? (1)

FlyByPC (841016) | about 5 years ago | (#29719603)

Cloud computing is trusting Someone Else to take care of your data. While there are good, trustworthy organizations out there, for me, it comes down to the old adage of "if you want to ensure something is done right, do it yourself."

Networks are great for communication, collaboration, and sharing information not available locally (Wikipedia, online scholarly journals, etc) -- but for me, putting word processors online doesn't pass the laugh test. No matter how reliable your network is, if you already have a local computer (and a local computer capable of word processing is trivial these days), why would you introduce another possible point-of-failure by making everything go over the network?

And also -- why name a computing company "Danger"?? That's like naming a cruise line Titanic Cruises, or naming an airline after the Tenerife disaster!

if you don't control your destiny, you will fail. (2, Interesting)

swschrad (312009) | about 5 years ago | (#29719635)

not just stuffy history book stuff or national security, IMPHO it fully applies to "the cloud."

if Microsoft can't even build a robust cloud environment, that experiment is done.

"danger," indeed.

Tinfoil Hat Time (1)

nick357 (108909) | about 5 years ago | (#29719647)

This seems fishy to me.

Microsoft wants you to use your own copies of Word, Excel, Exchange server and the rest, so that you do not have to trust in cloud computing. They want to sell you (or rent to you) software that allows you control your own data. They may be hedging their bets with some of their latest cloud offerings... but really - they'd prefer to rent you software that allows you to save your data on your own network and your own hard disk.

"Before finalizing your decision to move away from MS Office to an online service, perhaps you should review some of the hazards of trusting your data to others. There has been some recent events that might cause you to want to hold onto your own data"

Hehehe... just kidding - I am sure there is nothing underhanded about the whole thing.

Lightning bolt: Microsoft's gutting of Danger (2, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | about 5 years ago | (#29719653)

Microsoft gutted Danger and left it on life support but all the while they lead their customers( T-Mobile and users ) to believe Danger was thriving and doing fine. Wow, doesn't that sound like Paulson in early 2007 having stated that the banking system was just fine? The difference, Paulson really was clueless while Microsoft knew darn well they'd pulled most of Dangers developers over to their project Pink.

This is what should be up in lights with flares and fireworks and not anything about how bad/good cloud computing is. But once again, there is Microsoft at the wheel and yet the press is saying "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain".

And this interesting in tying this to cloud computing sounds eerily familiar since I just read how Steve Ballmer was bashing IBM for not running their business correctly. Basically, paying too much attention to software and cloud computing and he's all amped about this right when yet another Microsoft failure proves how bad they are at this. Could be spin control so watch for more of the same if it is.


The cloud is irrelevant to this problem. (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#29719731)

But some cloud technologists insist data center failures are not cloud failures. Is this distinction meaningful?

Of course its meaningful. If you have a local server that you own, and you choose not to back it up, and it fails with a complete loss of data, that isn't primarily a problem with owning a local server, or with the particular server operating system (though there may be factors associated with either of those that contribute to the crash), its a problem with you choosing not to back up data.

If you have a single traditional server that you pay for access to, but is owned and managed by someone else with your data, and the same thing happens because you didn't assure (e.g., via contract) that the server would be backed up, again, the problem is with your failure.

If you have a cloud using one or more local physical servers that you manjage (e.g., using the cloud software included with Ubuntu Server), and the same thing happens, its not a problem with either cloud technology in general or the particular cloud technology you used, again, its a problem with your choice not to back it up.

If you instead pay for the use of someone else's cloud to host your virtual server instances than either you should be backing them up (if you manage the virtual servers, even though the vendor will be managing the physical servers and the cloud software) or you should assure that the vendor managing the virtual servers is backing them up (if a vendor, either the cloud vendor or someone else, is doing that for you.) If the servers aren't backed up, its your fault, and not the (general or specific) cloud technologies fault.

Or does the cloud movement bear the burden of fuzzy definitions in assessing its shortcomings as well as its promise?

There's no fuzzy definition involved here. The problem is quite simply one of failing to plan for recovery in the case of failure. This is a need that is independent of whether your logical servers are identical to your physical servers or whether they are decoupled as is the case in cloud technology, and likewise independent of whether your physical servers are owned by you and located in your data center or owned by someoneone else and located in their data center (or any mix and match of ownership and location), and further independent of whether you manage your logical servers personally (or with your regular employees) or contract out for the management of them.

This is not a failure of cloud technology, it is a failure of the particular parties managing this particular implementation to do something to which the the use or not of cloud technologies is completely irrelevant.

Dan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29719787)

This brings up an interesting question on Cloud Computing. How does the Cloud know what to backup? And how does the system check the distributed backups are OK? Probably a thorny problem depending upon the Application Service.

Void Based Computing (1)

j33px0r (722130) | about 5 years ago | (#29719835)

Maybe I'm a bit old school but "the cloud" was a term for the inconsistent path that data would follow as it traveled from one point on the net to another. We already have terms such as remote, off-site, WAN, out sourced, etc. to describe such an environment, each of which is more accurate for any particular situation. When I hear someone state "we are implementing a cloud based solution" I inwardly laugh because I'm applying the old definition. What we have is a lame advertising buzzword that has gone mainstream. I patiently await for the term cloud to follow the word bling into the...well, I can't say cloud, into the void. I vote we call it the void instead of the cloud.
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