Special Report: How Fragile is the Cloud, Really?

InformationWeek and Network Computing teams tackle cloud infrastructure outages, cloud costs, cloud providers and other pressing issues concerning IT leaders.

Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek

August 1, 2022

4 Min Read
An impressive thunderhead is illuminated from within by lightning during an electrical storm
Mark Andrew Thomas via Alamy Stock

A severe cloud infrastructure outage often feels less like a service disruption and more like an earthquake. One incident can barrel its way across an entire region, indiscriminately disrupting commerce, travel, medical care, and communication. Reverberations are felt far, far from the site of the event. There's nothing most of us can do to prevent it from happening or stop it once it starts. We just have to wait for the shaking to end and hope that none of our most valuable stuff got smashed.

The cloud is quickly becoming as foundational to life on earth as the ground beneath our feet. AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, the cloud delivery networks like Fastly are an essential part of more businesses and industries every day, whether those businesses know it or not. 

And that's not such a bad thing. Cloud computing does enable extraordinary innovations.

Yet the companies running cloud services and maintaining cloud infrastructure have the same challenges all IT teams do: People are fallible. Market pressures rush release cycles. Legacy systems hold on with an iron fist. Networks are insufficiently segmented. Credential management is lackluster. Misconfigurations happen. Updates are risky. Regulatory compliance is a headache. Automation can't solve every problem. And 99.99% uptime sounds good until the .01% event happens.  

But the consequences when something goes wrong, the impact of those .01% incidents, are far far worse. When shipping, finance, medical care, government all rely on the same infrastructure to conduct basic operations, and that infrastructure is disrupted for hours...

Well, it's worth devoting a whole week of coverage to. So, that's what we're digging into at InformationWeek and Network Computing this week. Here's what we've covered so far, and what's coming up next:

Lessons Learned from Recent Major Outages, by Sal Salamone

Today’s more interconnected business world makes infrastructure and cloud outages all the more impactful. Here’s a recap of recent outages and their root causes.

Cyber Resiliency: How CIOs Can Prepare for a Cloud Outage, by John Edwards

The dangers posed by a cloud outage are clear and omnipresent. Here's how to prepare your organization for the inevitable worst-case cloud scenario.

Emerging Tech to Help Guard Against the Malevolence of Cloud Outages, by Pam Baker

From the outermost edge of extreme networks to the center of the energy vortex, emerging technologies are set to permanently end cloud outages. Will they eventually eradicate the clouds, too?

Reality Check: Why Your Cloud Provider Won't Be Providing Multi-Cloud Failover, by Brent Ellis

Your IT organization may view failing over from one hyperscaler's cloud to another as the ultimate security when it comes to cloud resiliency. Here's why that's not going to happen, plus a look at alternatives.

Legislators Gear Up to Regulate Cloud Providers for Resilience, by Carlo Massimo

The US, UK, and EU are all weighing regulations that would consider cloud companies "critical infrastructure" and require they meet resiliency standards.

Are Cloud Outages the Result of Choosing Price Over Reliability?, by Joao-Pierre Ruth

Market pressures and risk tradeoffs made by cloud providers might be the key to understanding why outages happen and what lies ahead for resolving cloud outages that can bring down regional, if not national commerce.

You Get What You Pay For: Cloud Edition, by Jessica Davis
An 8-hour cloud outage during holiday shopping season could cost a retailer millions of dollars. Here's how CIOs are weighing the risks and costs of outages against the complexities and costs of building resilience.

Can You Recover Losses Sustained During a Cloud Outage? By Richard Pallardy and Carrie Pallardy

The cloud comes with tantalizing promises of greater efficiency, improved data security, and boosted profits. But the cloud is not infallible, and outages are inevitable. Here’s what IT leaders need to know.

When (and if) to Sue Your Cloud Provider, by Richard Pallardy and Carrie Pallardy

Taking legal action is a slippery slope: Cloud providers are known to have covered their bases well. And besides, is it worth ruining your relationship with the cloud provider? It depends.

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What Can Network Managers Do About Cloud Outages? (Not Much), by Sal Salamone

Better observability tools can help net managers maintain some cyber resilience to cloud service outages, but misconfigs and DNS infrastructure is down to the providers.

How Climate Change is Impacting Cloud Resilience, by Samuel Greengard

Datacenter cooling issues are already causing problems for cloud providers. What does a future full of droughts, heat waves, and severe weather events mean for cloud resiliency?

15 Years of Cloud Outages: A Look Back at the InformationWeek Archives, By Sara Peters

Remember 2008, when "Low" by Flo Rida, featuring T-Pain, was the top single, and Gmail went down for more than 24 hours? We do.

Podcast: Workspot CEO on Coping with Cloud Outages, by Joao-Pierre Ruth

About the Author(s)

Sara Peters

Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek , InformationWeek

A journalist for over 20 years, Sara Peters has spent most of her career covering cybersecurity and enterprise IT, with a dash of basketball on the side. Before joining InformationWeek, she was senior editor at Dark Reading and a featured NBA columnist for Bleacher Report. 

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