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Controversy: What Happens When Cloud Fails

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Candice Dennison Cloud

It’s hard to picture our life without connectivity. Even though in my lifetime, there was a brief period without a cell phone, dial-up internet had a long horrific start up tone and Facebook, YouTube and Instagram hadn’t become the daily fixture in my life. Nowadays, if Netflix doesn’t load in 5 seconds, I’m the first to complain.

However, on occasions the very technology that we are very dependent on does fail. With arguably the brightest minds in tech developing and upgrading the system that holds out every inch of digital detail, it's difficult to picture what happens when it fails.

You trust multiple cloud servers, that hold your digital footprint. From Facebook storing photos and personal events, to your bank storing account details. It's scary to think of the ‘what if’ scenarios. Not only could these servers go down but what happens if they get hacked?

There was an outage for almost 5 hours and for millions of users their digital world stopped

On the 2nd of June, the East Coast woke up to the reality of a region outage of Google Cloud Platform. Services were disrupted for 4 ½ hours and Google have since referred to this incident as a “catastrophic failure”. A configuration change gone wrong and a software bug in the automation software have since been to blame. This affected services such as Google Nest, Shopify, YouTube, Snapchat and G Suite (and shockingly, even Pokémon Go! How would we live!)

Enterprises moved onto multi-cloud solutions, expanding Cloud’s offering to the industry

This incident raised concerns about the strength of Cloud services and ability to withhold such a prominent part of computing architecture, given that it caused outages for the world’s most popular applications.

As we become more reliable on the internet, even with our everyday household devices, it’s becoming increasingly important to have a back-up in place, should these outages happen again.

Some infrastructures are entirely dependable on GCP, and although the benefits outweigh the risks, it still shook up some businesses to create a contingency plan. Enterprises are opting for multiple or hybrid cloud options, mitigating the risks of everything being down at once.

New measures of security and disaster strategies are now in place, to prevent any future disruptions

Google are continuing with their disaster-recovery testing regime and taking steps to ensure this ‘catastrophic failure’ doesn’t happen again.  As well as review its emergency response tools and procedures. The reality is that things can fail (even Google!), so we have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.


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