Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Tim Hinds, Michael Jannery, Esmeralda Swartz, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, Linux, Security, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

Storms in the Cloud

No technology negates the need for proper planning and the cloud is no different

There are things we tend to take for granted in our everyday lives. We have certain expectations that don't even have to be spoken, they're just a given. If you walk into a room and turn on the light switch, the lights will go on, it's assumed. If you turn the water faucet on, water will come out; if you pick up the telephone, there will be a dial tone. The concept of any of those things not happening does not enter the conversation. These are services we have that are ubiquitous; we don't even think about them - they are just there.

In recent years people have seen the impact Mother Nature has had on those core services such as electricity, water and phone, Storms, hurricanes, floods and blizzards have taken our expectations of these services and turned them on their head.

Cloud Computing, the New Light Switch
Cloud computing has become pervasive in both our personal and business lives; you cannot have a conversation about technology without the word "cloud" in it.

On a personal level, our music players are streaming from the cloud, our tablets and eReaders are getting books from the cloud, our TVs are streaming video from the cloud and our smart phones and PCs are being backed up to the cloud. Google has glasses that connect you to the cloud and Samsung just came out with a watch that connects you to the cloud. Like the electricity and water in your home, the cloud is always there - at least that has become the perception and expectation.

On a business level, our expectations are influenced by our personal exposure and experiences with technology. There is an assumption that by going to the cloud, the services provided will always be there, like the light switch.

Recent Heavy Weather in the Cloud
Cloud services and service providers do enhance those expectations. By dispersing applications across multiple servers and multiple data centers, the technology implementations allow for higher levels of fault tolerance. The risk is that the higher levels of complexity needed to implement these infrastructures introduce new potential ‘technology storms' that can expose a business to unexpected failures and outages.

One need only read the headlines of public cloud outages over the last year whether it be NASDQ, Amazon, Google, and numerous other providers to understand that going to the cloud does not come with 100% availability, and that comes with a cost.

  • In January of this year, DropBox experienced an outage due to a ‘routine maintenance episode' on a Friday evening. Customers experienced 2-5 hour loss of access to services, some lasting into the weekend.
  • In August of last year, NASDAQ was shut down for 3 hours. The root cause was determined to be a ‘data flood' on requests that peaked at 26,000/sec, (26 times normal volumes) that exposed a software flaw that prevented the fail-safes from being triggered to allow operations to continue.
  • In that same month, Google experienced an outage of their services that only lasted 4 minutes. In that short period of time, Internet traffic dropped by 40%. (The fact the outage only lasted 4 minutes speaks well of Google's recovery plans and services.)
  • On January 31st, 2013, Amazon had an outage that lasted only 49 minutes. The estimated cost to Amazon in lost sales for that 49 minutes is estimated to be between $4-$5M dollars. (Several other companies that utilize Amazon's services, such as Netflix, also experienced the impact of this outage.)
  • As far back as two years ago, a large portion of the State of Maryland's IT services to the public were down for days due to a double failure in the storage sub-systems and their failover systems. No system is immune.

Planning for Availability and Recoverability
Going to the cloud does not in and of itself provide high availability and resiliency. Like any technology architecture, these capabilities need to be designed in and come with a cost. Higher availability has always required more effort and associated costs, and going to the cloud alone does not necessarily provide what your business is expecting from that light switch.

When moving to cloud architectures, whether they are public or private, business needs and expectations around availability and resiliency must be defined and understood. You cannot take for granted that by being in the cloud the needs will be met. Due diligence must still be performed.

  • When going to the public clouds, you need to make sure the availability requirements from the business are included in the SLAs with the cloud vendor.
  • When building a private cloud network, it is incumbent on the IT organization to ensure the needs and requirements are baked into the design and implementation of that infrastructure, and that expectations with the business are properly set and understood.
  • Risk mitigation plans need to be developed and in place before outages occur, as even the best infrastructure may still have a failure (such as the State of Maryland). Going to the cloud does not negate the need to develop and have a business continuity plan.
  • If working with a public cloud provider, this is a joint effort, not solely the vendor's responsibility or yours. Vendors will have their own set of plans, and you must dovetail yours with theirs. Make sure you understand what they have in place before signing on the dotted line.

No technology negates the need for proper planning and the cloud is no different. Ultimately, weathering the technological natural disasters in the cloud is accomplished just like we weather those of Mother Nature, prepare a plan, so when the storm does hit, you can make it out the other side.

More Stories By Ed Featherston

Ed Featherston is a senior enterprise architect and director at Collaborative Consulting. He brings more than 34 years of information technology experience of designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, client/server, middleware, and cloud technologies, Ed has designed and delivered projects for a variety of industries, including financial services, pharmacy, government and retail.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Application monitoring and intelligence can smooth the path in a DevOps environment. In a DevOps environment you see constant change. If you are trying to monitor things in a constantly changing environment, you're going to spend a lot of your job fixing your monitoring," explained Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Desktop as a Service is emerging as a very big trend. One of the big influencers of this – for Esri – is that we have a large user base that uses virtualization and they are looking at Desktop as a Service right now," explained John Meza, Product Engineer at Esri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
What do a firewall and a fortress have in common? They are no longer strong enough to protect the valuables housed inside. Like the walls of an old fortress, the cracks in the firewall are allowing the bad guys to slip in - unannounced and unnoticed. By the time these thieves get in, the damage is already done and the network is already compromised. Intellectual property is easily slipped out the back door leaving no trace of forced entry. If we want to reign in on these cybercriminals, it's hig...
“We are strong believers in the DevOps movement and our staff has been doing DevOps for large enterprise environments for a number of years. The solution that we build is intended to allow DevOps teams to do security at the speed of DevOps," explained Justin Lundy, Founder & CTO of Evident.io, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, ...
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
Docker offers a new, lightweight approach to application portability. Applications are shipped using a common container format and managed with a high-level API. Their processes run within isolated namespaces that abstract the operating environment independently of the distribution, versions, network setup, and other details of this environment. This "containerization" has often been nicknamed "the new virtualization." But containers are more than lightweight virtual machines. Beyond their small...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water,...
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, focused on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud platfo...
Between the compelling mockups and specs produced by your analysts and designers, and the resulting application built by your developers, there is a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral out of control, and applications fall short of requirements. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a new approach where business and development users collaborate – each using tools appropriate to their goals and expertise – to build mo...
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immed...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
"ElasticBox is an enterprise company that makes it very easy for developers and IT ops to collaborate to develop, build and deploy applications on any cloud - private, public or hybrid," stated Monish Sharma, VP of Customer Success at ElasticBox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For the past 4 years we have been working mainly to export. For the last 3 or 4 years the main market was Russia. In the past year we have been working to expand our footprint in Europe and the United States," explained Andris Gailitis, CEO of DEAC, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!