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Danger no backups

Cloud has no silver lining
Mon Oct 12 2009, 09:52

HACKS SPENT the weekend running around looking for a cause to Microsoft's outage that left many T-Mobile Sidekick users without access to their calendar, address book, and other key data.

Outages happen all the time, but this one was particularly bad because the Vole has been trying to tell the world plus dog that it is perfectly safe to stuff data onto the cloud. Sidekick keeps nearly all of its users' data in the cloud as opposed to keeping the primary copies on the devices themselves.

To make matters worse, the Vole admitted that data not recovered thus far may be permanently lost. It is not clear how many people that will harm.

Microsoft has a problem in that it is just about to launch Azure, its operating system in the cloud. Software written for Azure will run only at Microsoft's data centres and not on a company's own servers.

To be fair to the Vole, the 'Danger' system that was powering the Sidekick fiasco is not the same as Azure. However all the data was still hosted in Microsoft's data centres which have been sold as a secure places for storing data.

The Vole bought Danger last year and it has been assuring everyone that its Azure service is built with more redundancy. For a file to be lost, Microsoft will have to lose an entire data centre, it claims.

Later in the weekend cracks in the Vole's story were starting to appear. Hacks have now started to point to a hardware failure in Microsoft's cloud.

Engadget said that the Vole outsourced an upgrade of its Sidekick storage area network (SAN) to Hitachi, which did not make a backup before it started.

The upgrade went pear shaped and all the data was lost. When the Vole asked where the backup was, Hitachi engineers suddenly remembered something important that had to be done across town.

People expect that the road to Redmond will soon be lined with crucified Hitachi and Microsoft engineers who were involved in the situation.

Coming at a moment when the whole cloud computing thing needs considerable faith on the part of IT managers, something like this could let the Vole's whole marketing department down.

The fact that Google has had a few problems with its own cloud applications will bring Microsoft little comfort. Cloud computing is new technology and if it is regarded as unreliable then it will not happen. µ


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