Cloud computing infrastructures will routinely fail, panel says

Cloud computing infrastructures will routinely fail, panel says

Summary: Most of us can agree that we're still in the nascent stages of cloud computing, and that there are a lot of pitfalls to overcome still. But many Silicon Valley players argue that we need to accept the failures of the cloud to learn from them.

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The major theme being discussed at GigaOm's Structure conference in San Francisco this week is the future of cloud computing. Most of us can agree that we're still in the nascent stages of this technology, and that there are a lot of pitfalls to overcome still. But many Silicon Valley players argue that we need to accept the failures of the cloud to learn from them.

While moderating a "guru panel" dubbed "What can the Enterprise Learn from Webscale?" on Wednesday, Facebook's VP of Technical Operations Jonathan Heiliger said that "web businesses are designed to fail," meaning that the fundamental components are going to fail, but that the apps should be built to under scale this failure.

Claus Moldt, Global CIO and SVP Service Delivery at Salesforce.com, added to that:

Everything within the infrastructure needs to be designed with failure in mind...That's how you have to run your business.

However, the panelists agreed that the best way for a business (especially startups) to avoid complete failure when transitioning to the cloud is building on a horizontal scale - not a vertical one.

LinkedIn's VP of Engineering Kevin Scott VP warned that if companies don't think about the infrastructure on a scalable basis in the beginning, they'll "deeply regret it."

In addition to having fundamental fault tolerance, you have to think very quickly about how you're going to scale your applications.

It's not just about economics...it's about good system design, dealing with networks and components failing...It forces you to expose clean APIs between these components.

Sid Anand, a software architect at Netflix, offered the example that when the video streaming site moved to Amazon's Web Services cloud, noting that the move was successful because developers rebuilt the apps from scratch with a new DNA. Thus, as Anand mentioned, Netflix had an "infinite scalable and resilient" system because they didn't "shoe-horn" apps into a new platform that they weren't originally designed for.

Of course, one of the biggest hindrances to the cloud still for most consumer and enterprise computer users is questionable security. Without delving too much into specifics, Jacob Rosenberg, an architect at Comcast, advised that enterprises need to take a more holistic approach to understanding security. Scott added that this could incorporate "traditional security techniques and aggressive monitoring" by IT departments.

Noting that "there is a new generation of measures that are being taken to secure cloud-type services," Rosenberg said that these ideas can still be applied to existing hosted products to make them more secure as well.

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Topics: Social Enterprise, Enterprise Software

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16 comments
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  • RE: Cloud computing infrastructures will routinely fail, panel says

    If you think to migrate applications to cloud infrastructure, as its, this sounds to me basic. Most of us are making this mistake while trying to port architectures as it is. Going to cloud is altogether a different ball game and approach should be from scratch.
    Manpreet Singh Brar
  • not sure the title

    matches what you want to say in the article.
    tiderulz
    • RE: Cloud computing infrastructures will routinely fail, panel says

      @tiderulz True, but the title is the bait. Would you read an article titled "Cloud infrastructure providers and their fault tolerant implementations"?
      Your Non Advocate
      • RE: Cloud computing infrastructures will routinely fail, panel says

        @facebook@...
        I don't think zdnet bloggers get to choose titles for their posts. SEO department does it for them. Often times they change the title during the day...
        Scrabbler
  • Sounds familiar

    "But many Silicon Valley players argue that we need to accept the failures of the cloud to learn from them."

    Sounds kind of like Pelosi saying we need to pass obamacare to find out what's in it.
    sackbut
  • When failure is not ok

    Failure streaming Netflix is ok. I can watch the movie tomorrow. Failure using LinkedIn or Facebook is ok, too. I can chat later. Failure when the software runs my business and every hour of downtime has tremendous costs to both me and my clients is not ok, which is why we have some ways to go before we see widespread adoption of the cloud for enterprise applications.
    Michael Bethuy
    • Cost vs. Reliability

      @Michael Bethuy
      Excellent points that consumers don't get...but business providers do get. We are on the cusp of virtualizing computing and it's daunting for the cloud providers.

      If you recall, businesses had data networks in the '90's based on Frame Relay - but it took a decade to convince them they didn't need dedicated private lines. Switching scared them and rightly so...one of the switch providers could update software and disrupt connectivity for core applications (which did happen). But FR was cheaper and providers got better - it became the de facto wide area networking technology.

      In this millennium we are moving deeper into MPLS and WAN optimization - and adding VoIP to existing networks. Businesses are wary that all this will work just using QOS to keep everything happy. And they fear internet latency if it is part of the equation. But it is cheaper and it will eventually prevail.

      Cloud computing will overtake the classic data centers and storage farms when reliability improves and security concerns are quelled. If history is any example then we should see most apps in clouds within 5 years.
      paulgauzens
      • RE: Cloud computing infrastructures will routinely fail, panel says

        @paulgauzens
        "within 5 years" seems a bit optimistic. Businesses tend to be conservative with their systems. History shows us that legacy software & systems are kept running long past their sell-by date. The sheer volume of legacy software out there mitigates against a rapid transfer to the cloud.

        I can see new applications developed in the cloud, but I think it will be a long time before the bulk of legacy apps have been moved or replaced.
        Hacker.jon
  • RE: Cloud computing infrastructures will routinely fail, panel says

    Cloud bad for business and privacy. Cloud good for entertainment. Businesses relying on the cloud do so because it is convenient and cheap... Here is the rule:
    Pick TWO and ONLY TWO - Cheap / Convenient / Secure. ONLY TWO. Understand?
    notme403@...
  • RE: Cloud computing infrastructures will routinely fail, panel says

    "snip"<br>However, the panelists agreed that the best way for a business (especially startups) to avoid complete failure when transitioning to the cloud is building on a horizontal scale - not a vertical one."/snip"<br><br>Please define "horizontal" vs "vertical" in this context.<br><br>Part of designing for failure is learning to read the contracts "properly". A lot of people who expected to get rebates after the recent Amazon failure won't because they hadn't designed their redundancy in accordance with the terms of the license.
    Ron_007
  • RE: Cloud computing infrastructures will routinely fail, panel says

    No question that failure is an opportunity for learning. But to accept failure as normal is a cop-out. The technology and best practices for exceptional uptime are readily available, and have been for years. How about an average of one-quarter second of unplanned downtime a month? That is what a Fortune 100 account of Stratus? experienced on its global network for all of 2010, servicing literally tens of millions of customers around the globe. What?s lacking is not the ability, but the commitment to deliver exceptional customer service. Customers deserve better.

    Dave Laurello
    President and CEO
    Stratus Technologies, Inc.
    Dave Laurello
  • RE: Cloud computing infrastructures will routinely fail, panel says

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