Amazon crashes and clouds burn. On April 21, Amazon.com had problems with one or more of its shared-services data centers – in other words, its cloud was grounded. And it wasn’t the first time.
While we don’t know the full extent of the damage caused by Amazon’s cloud failure, for the firms that rely on the Amazon infrastructure, it wasn’t pretty – applications, systems and websites went down, leading to frustrated users, angry customers and missed sales. That said, shared services – that is, clouds – are the future of computing.
For years enterprise software has been in decline. Firms have been thinking about how to transition from proprietary to open, from single to multitenant, and from individually deployed to the cloud, where not only the data is virtualized but the processing is as well. This was the idea with grid and utility computing, and now the cloud.
The problem is, while shared infrastructure is the future, systems still go down. That’s why most Wall Street firms are not putting mission-critical services in shared clouds; rather, they are leveraging private cloud infrastructures for their too-important-to-fail applications. But this will change.
When I first started writing about grid technology, compute-intensive applications were beginning to share processing power within a single data center. Then, as the capabilities of processors improved, our grids became data-constrained – the ability to compute was compromised by the ability to move data into and out of the database. From compute grids we moved to data grids, where the database became virtual and we leveraged distributed memory, only committing to the database when transactions needed to be permanently recorded.