The virtual data center, securing the cloud.

Tonight I’ve been reading an analysis of what business functionality shouldn’t be moved into the data center cloud. Hugging servers in your own data center can be comforting, but it’s far from a guarantee that you’re not going to have a security breach or a storage failure wipe out critical data.

In recent months, high profile rookie mistakes by Microsoft and subsidiaries and general lack of operational competence by Google have managed to blacken the reputation of everyone involved in cloud computing. The Microsoft and Danger fiasco of losing the T-Mobile Sidekick users data was the result of poor facilities design, not anything inherently wrong with cloud computing itself (who would have thought that you should back up critical storage?). The same results would obtain from implementing classic data center design without any storage backups.

Google’s high profile flops generally seem to involve human errors and improperly planned maintenance operations creating cascading failures (who would have thought reducing number of routers below minimum load requirements would blow the whole thing up?). Once again, this can happen in any data center environment, given the same bozo behavior.

So, how do you insure security and reliability of the cloud? Regarding security, I’m not aware of any security incidents that were the result of or exacerbated by the presence of cloud facilities. OS bugs in cloud hosted virtual machines and user system administration mistakes are a much greater threat to the security of the user data, just exactly like traditional dedicated data center servers.

For reliability, the answer isn’t hard. Good power quality, multiple power sources for multiple portions of the cloud (a single power failure should NEVER take the entire cloud down!), monitoring of all cloud hosts, failover so that the impact of cloud host failures on the user is minimal to zip, and a solid back end storage system with appropriate redundancy and off site backups. Prevent human error failures by careful planning of maintenance operations (avoid the failure, recognize the failure quickly, back out of the action that caused the failure quickly). These are all things we do with our Aurora Resilient Cloud Service (just released today!).

Making the cloud solid and reliable isn’t some kind of new and mysterious black magic, it’s mostly the same tried and true recipe for reliability that’s been used for years. Just because the cloud is new doesn’t mean we have to do it badly while we reinvent the wheel.

Vern, SwiftWater Telecom

data center cloud services


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