T-Mobile Data Loss Falsely Reflects on Cloud Computing - InformationWeek
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10/19/2009
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David Linthicum
David Linthicum
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T-Mobile Data Loss Falsely Reflects on Cloud Computing

Hopefully you don't have a T-Mobile Sidekick. If you do, you'll be disheartened to learn that your contact data could be gone after a SANS upgrade that went sideways... So, let's see, data was lost. It was remote data. So, cloud computing failed again, correct?... We need to get smarter here.

Hopefully you don't have a T-Mobile Sidekick. If you do, you'll be disheartened to learn that your contact data could be gone after a SANS upgrade that went sideways. Failing to backup the data before the upgrade has lead to the loss of contact information for that older brand of cell phone. Thus Sidekicks that need to reload their contact information are out of luck. So, let's see, data was lost. It was remote data. So, cloud computing failed again, correct?My phone rings off the hook whenever these sorts of events occur. Most calls come from the press, looking for sound bites or quotes around the relationship between the data loss issue and cloud computing. Lately it's been Gmail outages, which I push back on as being a "poor reflection of cloud computing." The Gmail outages were not caused by cloud computing. The idea that cloud computing caused the T-Mobile incident is even sillier, and causes much more confusion among the rank-and-file who already fear cloud computing. Outages are scary, but data loss is terrifying.

So, just to be clear, does the data loss issue at T-Mobile mean that cloud computing failed? No way. Unless I'm missing something pretty big, T-Mobile does not consider themselves a cloud computing provider such as Amazon or Google, and we need to stop calling anybody who manages data on the Internet a "cloud computing provider;" they are not.

"But some analysts argue that the Sidekick snafu isn't a 'cloud failure' at all. 'Every outage is not a frigging cloud outage,' Redmonk's James Governor writes on Twitter. 'The T-mobile failure is at a traditional data center - it's not running on Force, AWS, or other cloud infrastructure is it? If someone doesn't back up their data and loses it, I don't call that a cloud failure.' "

Although I'm sure there are some unprepared providers out there, most cloud computing services take many steps to make sure that what happened at T-Mobile won't happen within their infrastructure. This includes backups, hot standbys, and many levels of redundancy that probably don't exist within typical enterprises. While they will go down from time to time due to hardware, software, and network failures, they won't lose your data.

What's core to this issue is the fact that few out there really understand the differences between cloud providers and cell phone providers. We need to become a bit more sophisticated about how we group things together. We need to stop calling everything that does not exist within our firewalls "the cloud." We need to understand the core attributes of true cloud computing providers, and their potential value.

This is the kind of misinformation that could slowly kill cloud computing. While those in the know understand the differences, those who make decisions and approve budgets typically do not. I suspect a few cloud computing projects were delayed because somebody's kid lost their contact data, and falsely chalked it off as a reason not to do cloud. We need to get smarter here.Hopefully you don't have a T-Mobile Sidekick. If you do, you'll be disheartened to learn that your contact data could be gone after a SANS upgrade that went sideways... So, let's see, data was lost. It was remote data. So, cloud computing failed again, correct?... We need to get smarter here.

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