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Is There Hypocrisy in the Cloud?

by on April 12, 2010

Parent_scold_smallDo as I say, not as I do. How many times has a child heard that bit of sophistry from a hypocritical adult? That kind of lip service isn’t reserved to duplicitous parents, though, as Robin Harris recently pointed out in his Storage Bits column for ZDNet.

In his piece, Harris was making a case for why private clouds won’t be headed for the endangered species list anytime soon. If anyone doubts that premise, all they need to do is look at how cloud providers themselves handle their power issues, he reasoned.

Many of the benefits of cloud computing have an analog in the public power system. Power generation, like data aggregation, is cheapest when it’s centralized and distributed through large-scale systems. Yet Google, when it built its dual 85,000 square foot data centers next to a substation that’s part of the country’s largest and most reliable hydropower systems, chose to surround the facilities with generators. “Why do Google, Amazon and every other cloud service provider invest millions in private power production?” he asked. “They don’t trust public power.”

Still, cloud providers would have potential customers trust a commoditydatathat’s as important to those customers as power is to the providers to a public distribution system called the Internet. “We cannot rely 100 percent on Internet access to our data,” Harris wrote. “Given the outages we’ve seen to date, even 99 percent is a stretch.”

If Google can’t trust a system that’s more than 125 years old, built on a technology that’s well understood and an industry that’s mature, how can it ask businesses to bet their future on a system that’s less than 50 years old and is built on an evolving technology in an immature industry?

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