Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: Ian Khan, John Grimm, Liz McMillan, Jnan Dash, Don MacVittie

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

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
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a global leader in monitoring, and testing the performance of online applications, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of DevOps Summit New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016 at the Javits Center in New York City. Catchpoint radically transforms the way businesses manage, monitor, and test the performance of online applications. Truly understand and improve user experience with clear visibility into complex, distributed online systems.Founde...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
The revocation of Safe Harbor has radically affected data sovereignty strategy in the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Jeff Miller, Product Management at Cavirin Systems, discussed how to assess these changes across your own cloud strategy, and how you can mitigate risks previously covered under the agreement.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment proces...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them ...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...