It seems that every time a high-profile Internet service goes down, pundits predict that it will undermine confidence in cloud computing. And yet through 2010 the cloud model has shown surprisingly resilience in the face of this "headline risk," continuing to gain momentum and mindshare.
But that may be changing. High-profile service outages at Amazon and Microsoft have made some prospects wary of placing business applications on cloud computing services, and have altered the way many existing customers deploy their services, according to analysts from The 451 Group.
"The world is not the same after the April 21st outage at Amazon and the August outages at Microsoft and Amazon," said William Fellows, co-founder and Principal Analyst at The 451 Group, at the Tier 1 Hosting & Cloud Transformation Summit last week.
Outages Have Ripple Effect
In April Amazon Web Services experienced an extended outage that caused downtime or performance problems for man y social media services that rely on the company's cloud computing services. The outage, which lasted as long as four days for some customers using Amazon's storage services, was later attributed to a network configuration error. In August the European cloud operations of both Microsoft and Amazon were knocked offline by a power outage in Dublin.
The downtime has reinforced the doubts of many who were already skeptical of the cloud, but also grabbed the attention of a larger group of prospects who could be deterred by further outages. A survey of IT customers by ChangeWave found that 7 percent of users were "significantly" less likely to use cloud services, while 20 percent said they were "somewhat less likely" to adopt the cloud model.
Only a small percentage of those who were "significantly less likely" to use the cloud were currently using the model, said Paul Carton, the Vice President of Research at ChangeWave, which was recently acquired by The 451 Group. Carton said this suggests that the strongest reactions to the recent outages were seen among IT users who are skeptical about the cloud model and see these events as reinforcing their conclusions.
Prospects Focus on Reliability
But Carton said the more important group was the 20 percent who said they were "somewhat less likely" to adopt cloud services, as that group likely includes many prospects who are on the fence about whether to use cloud services. If these type of outages became a recurring phenomenon, Carton said, it could have a negative impact on adoption among this group.
Perhaps the biggest impact of the outage has been seen in how existing users approach cloud architectures, according to Fellows. "End users now want to mandate that they have multi-cloud strategies," said Fellows.
That means the old-school concept of maintaining redundant infrastructure in multiple sites and data centers is being repeated in the cloud - albeit using virtual machines that are far easier to back up and deploy than physical hardware. This will make it somewhat more expensive for companies to run a resilient cloud architecture, but could boost business for cloud providers and create opportunities for "cloud brokers" like RightScale that can help end users shift data between cloud platforms.
While noting the potential that further outages could deter some cloud prospects, The 451 Group remains decidedly bullish about the growth of cloud computing, projecting that cloud spending will grow from $1.4 billion in 2010 to about $8 billion in 2014.