On April 21, 2011, the naysayers who have been inveighing against cloud computing were given more evidence as to why it may not be the panacea it has been touted to be. Amazon’s cloud computing service crashed.

The entire point of cloud computing can be summed up as a way to save time and money by outsourcing the infrastructure necessary for a business to run its computing functions e.g., email; bookkeeping; invoicing; and word processing. The idea is to take advantage of the economies of scale to eliminate the cost of having consultants or employees on site to create a server/software complex just for that one business. By sharing the service with many businesses, the costs are reduced, as is the need to update and maintain the infrastructure.

However, the danger is that when the cloud falls apart, the business has less control. It must wait in line with all the other clients accessing the cloud for things to be right as rain (sorry) again.

The April 21st Amazon outage related to one of its cloud computing offerings called, the Amazon Elastic Block Store. It happened as a result of human error when the system was being serviced for general maintenance. It took about three days for everything to be back on line. But in the virtual world of the Internet where everything is meant to be instantaneous, that can be an eternity.

This highlights the necessity that a business using cloud computing should always have contracts with the provider that provide appropriate remedies in the event of an outage. It also relates to the need for the contract to provide for back up systems not only for service but for the storage of the data itself.

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