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Friday, January 05, 2007

Enterprise & Infrastructure Outages

A series of issues with Gmail invited the comment that Google is the new Microsoft!. Yesterday, I faced problem in searching in gmail system. Amazon’s S3 service suffered an outage recently. Fellow Enterprise Irregular Charlie Wood,raises the issue of lack of reliability of the on-demand services - these definitely demands answers.

Yesterday Amazon's S3 service suffered an outage that lasted more than long enough to miss the company's self-imposed goal of 99.99% availability, at least for the next couple of months. Last November, Google Calendar was unavailable for the better part of a day. And famously, Salesforce.com suffered a string of outages this time last year. Unfortunately, my business relies on all three of these services.
We're clearly still in the very early days of utility computing, but reliability is an issue that will have to be addressed sooner or later. Ultimately, it comes down to accountability - bad things will happen. The question is how the vendor will respond. When Amazon's S3 service tanked, an Amazon Web Services engineer posted a message to a discussion group with an acknowledgment and a lame apology. When Google Calendar went south, they gave much the same response. When Salesforce.com fell over, they spent $50M and an entire release cycle fixing the problems.

As I wrote here, amongst the top set of concerns that CIO’s looking towards embracing SaaS solutions have is availability & security. Outages like this have the effect of not only affecting immediate users but most of the times the complete ecosystem as wellNeedless to say while enterprises look for easy and economical solutions, the cost of outage would be very high and as improvements happen on this front, the cost of increased reliability needs to be assessed. While, the benefits of SaaS are still an open issue , the fundamental concerns still seem to be far from fully addressed. Hopefully we shall see more answers coming in this year. SaaS vendors are seeing bullish demand and customers would also demand more reliable service.

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