Most of us have heard about at least one spectacular cloud failure, and some of us have been directly affected by one. While cloud technologies and security mechanisms continue to mature, they still suffer the same types of issues as in-house infrastructures. The primary difference, however, is that cloud failures impact many more users than an in-house problem would and therefore have greater visibility when problems occur.
Failures that plague cloud service providers tend to fall into one of three main categories:
- "Beginner mistakes" on the part of service providers. This is when the provider starts out or grows at a rate faster than can be properly managed its by data center staff. Cloud giants, including Amazon Web Services and Google Compute, were often plagued with outages early on as each company grew at incredible rates. Even Microsoft, which entered the cloud game later than the others, ran into outage problems early and often.
- Security flaws that hackers eventually expose. Because clouds are massive in scale compared with private data centers, they're much bigger targets for hackers. Cloud companies learned this lesson in a series of mistakes that exposed customer data on several occasions. Security breaches are a major concern among cloud computing customers, and many enterprise organizations are wary of handing over data protection responsibilities to a third-party service provider.
- Poor processes within the cloud. Processes such as inadequate security audits, poor backup procedures, and administrators with inappropriate access to servers are all procedural problems that could be avoided. Unfortunately, these non-technical problems commonly are overlooked until it's too late.
For some of you, the cloud failures listed here may simply highlight areas where cloud service providers need to grow or adapt in order to better service their customers. For others, the examples may be more personal, as your data or applications may have been affected. Either way, we'd love to hear which cloud failures you found to be the most spectacular and why. Tell us all about it in the comments section below.