The cloud industry has now been attracting the world’s brightest minds for some time now. It’s an exciting, up-and-coming space that creative, pioneering individuals are vying to find their place within. The newest Microsoft recruit comes in the form of Allison Gorman Nachtigal by way of Morgan Stanley, where she has led their cloud program. Despite the sector’s outward success, it’s still experiencing growing pains. Namely, huge cloud outages.
Australia’s Big Shut Down
Just this week, in Australia, Oracle, Netsuite and Microsoft’s clouds were all struck down. The problem was weather related, a common cause of outages. It’s been speculated that a lightning storm was the main reason for the disruption. As extreme weather events become much more common, some wonder whether the cloud’s ineffectiveness in the face of these challenges is a fundamental issue. If the cloud can’t handle the weather now, how will it be strong enough to take us through the climate crisis?
Microsoft Azure told customers…
“A utility power surge in the Australia East region tripped a subset of the cooling units offline in one datacenter, within one of the Availability Zones.”
Meanwhile Netsuite said…
“A lightning storm impacted the chiller plant in the Sydney data center, and most systems were temporarily shut down to reduce temperatures. The temperatures have stabilized, and the systems are being systematically powered up.”
Have There Been Other Cloud Outages Recently?
Not too long ago, we reported on a similarly catastrophic outage experienced by AWS. It resulted in 12,000 outage reports and effected influential companies including the Boston Globe, Southwest Airlines and the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority
Despite the difficulty, a spokesperson from AWS said…
“We quickly narrowed down the root cause to be an issue with a subsystem responsible for capacity management for AWS Lambda, which caused errors directly for customers and indirectly through the use by other AWS services.”
Are Cloud Outages Always Going To Be A Problem?
Cloud outages are an increasingly pressing issue, as more and more people come to rely on cloud services. With unprecedented demand, companies are learning-on-the-job how to meet the challenge. In this case, outages and other lapses in supply are bound to happen.
In January, millions of Microsoft Azure customers were unable to access their Outlook and Teams accounts due to an outage. A fire was the cause of another big shut down in April, affecting Google Cloud customers in Europe, Japan, India, Indonesia and South Carolina.
Outages tend to occur due to problems at the data centres such as fires or extreme weather events like earthquakes or heat waves. But of course sometimes they are subject to malicious attacks from hackers or even, in the case of an underwater cable being cut, sabotage! Some of these things can be prevented but in the case of extreme weather, with the climate crisis only getting worse, it’s likely there is much more to come.
So, Australia is the latest victim of the steady stream of cloud outages happening around the world. It’ll be important to see how the industry adapts to this challenge as time goes on, because if it isn’t dealt with properly, it could spell the end of the dream for the cloud. Do you think cloud outages can be stopped?