The Dark Side of the Cloud


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Cloud services have ballooned in recent years, and that growth shows no signs of slowing. But the cloud has had its share of bumps in the road — er, sky.

A Brief History of Cloud Failures

March 2009
T-Mobile Sidekick mobile phone users are left without access to their calendars, address books and other aspects of their service in a six-day outage of Microsoft servers.
October 2008
A 30-hour outage strikes Google apps and Gmail after the services were interrupted by another outage just two months prior.
April 2011,, and are affected by a more than day-long disruption that leaves many of the sites completely inaccessible.
June 2012
An East Coast storm pulls the plug on some of Amazon’s servers in Virginia, causing outages in Instagram, Netflix and Pinterest.
January 2013
Amazon’s own home page is knocked offline for about an hour; the company is said to have lost about $5 million in revenue during the outage.
February 2013
Microsoft’s Office 365 editing suite and mail service both drop offline for a couple of hours, and the following day, the company’s Bing search engine has a brief outage of its own. A few weeks later, Microsoft’s Azure cloud storage service fails and its Xbox Live system keeps users from accessing cloud-connected data.
March 2013
CloudFare’s own site and all of its services were knocked off line, taking down more than 750,000 other sites, including Wikileaks, 4chan and some government sites.
May 2013
Amazon’s cloud computing service is hacked, exposing hundreds of thousands of LinkedIn’s 259 million member profiles to hackers.
June 2013
Twitter is inaccessible for about 45 minutes.
October 2013
Verizon’s Terremark cloud service suffers a network failure, causing the already troubled site to go offline.

Who’s Using the Cloud — and What Are They Spending?

3 in 4
Large companies using or considering cloud services
$131 billion
End-user spending on public cloud services in 2013
That same market is expected to grow to $180 billion by 2015

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

$46 million
Average annual cost for a Fortune 500 company thanks to cloud-service downtime
Average hourly cost for cloud downtime by industry
$90,000 Media
$6.48 million Large online brokerage
LinkedIn users who say security is their top concern about the cloud
4 in 10
Companies that lose cloud data within two to five years
Biggest risks of cloud computing

  • No Internet connection means no access.
  • Putting all your faith in the cloud means putting all your faith in continued, unfettered access, which will cost and continue to cost more.
  • Intellectual property issues. Who owns the data you store online?
  • Data might not be cloud worthy (i.e. customer-sensitive information).
  • Companies and users have to trust their cloud service vendors to protect their data from unauthorized users.
  • Cloud-based solutions are exposed on the public Internet and are thus a more vulnerable target for malicious users and hackers.
  • Potential outages and downtime

“I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.”
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak