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Monday, December 29, 2008

Is Google Losing Document?

John Dvorak posted this question on his blog Saturday and as of Sunday evening had 52 responses! This is not a good thing for building confidence in cloud computing. Or is it?

The story is that users of Google Docs were receiving the message “Sorry! We are experiencing technical difficulties and cannot show all of your documents.” Apparently the document were restored by Saturday evening, but this incident just reinforces two points:

  • Just like any other human enterprise, cloud computing isn't infallible; and
  • The Google cloud was apparently able to restore all the documents
In the thread it seems that Google Docs was down for one day. Not knowing what happened, this recovery seems to have been just as good as any other global enterprise.

So what's the beef with cloud computing? I don't see any. I do, however, see a problem with the document recovery delay. The issue is that a cloud service should be designed in a way that makes such failures invisible to the users.

This is why I'm a fan of cryptographic data splitting and with geographic disbursement. With this approach, even with a complete failure in one geographic location, data can be reconstituted and served immediately from the other, multiple storage locations without service lost. This type of service level cannot be provided by current RAID solutions.