"The truth is, there are better solutions than a single cloud if you need absolute availability," says Chris Whitener, chief strategist of HP's Secure Advantage program. "It's not necessarily that you have to duplicate everything, but even putting one extra step in there -- maybe backing up crucial data yourself -- can make all the difference."
Colossal cloud outage No. 6: Microsoft's BPOS oops
It's hard to be productive when your cloud-based productivity suite bites the virtual dust. That's what happened to organizations relying on Microsoft's business cloud offering just weeks ago: The service, named -- in true Microsoft style -- Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, started to stutter around May 10. Paying customers' email was delayed by as much as nine hours as a result.
Two days later, just when it looked like BPOS was in the clear, the delay returned and outgoing messages started getting stuck in the pipeline, too. If that weren't enough, Microsoft experienced a separate issue that prevented users from logging into its Web-based Outlook portal as well.
"I'd like to apologize to you, our customers and partners, for the obvious inconveniences these issues caused," Dave Thompson, corporate vice president for Microsoft Online Services, wrote in a blog.
"I'd also like to apologize for the obvious inconvenience of having to speak 15 syllables every time you say our service's ridiculous name," he probably should have added.
Colossal cloud outage No. 7: The Salesforce slipup
An hour of downtime may not sound like much, but when your company holds the keys to the customer service operations of tens of thousands of businesses, more than a few of those organizations are bound to view those 60 minutes as a lifetime.
Salesforce.com learned this the hard way when its data center shut down last January. Just four days into the new year, Salesforce.com reported a full-on failure -- meaning services, backups, the whole nine yards were kaput.
Annoying? Absolutely. Surprising? Not entirely.
"The reality is that cloud-based data centers -- guess what? -- they go down, too," says Tim Crawford, chief information officer of All Covered, a division of Konica Minolta. "That has always been the case and will always be the case. We have to be realistic about it."
Crawford says successful cloud computing requires a different mind-set than traditional server setups: It's up to you, he suggests, to decide whether your business's data can endure occasional downtime -- and if not, to make sure your configuration has the resiliency needed to avoid it.
"When you pick a cloud provider, you need to do your homework to understand how they're providing those services and if they're able to build a level of redundancy as good or better than what you're able to do on your own," Crawford says. "If the answer is no, then why are you using them?"
Colossal cloud outage No. 8: Terremark's terrible day
These days, Terremark may be making headlines for its billion-dollar Verizon deal, but in early 2010, an extended outage dominated the cloud provider's coverage.