Cloud Computing and Data Center Mishaps Reveal Vendor Differences

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 |  Includes: IBM, MSFT
by: Jeffrey M. Kaplan

A series of service outages over the past few days has brought into focus all the worst fears about the ‘cloud’ computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) movement. These incidents have also demonstrated how data center experience doesn’t necessarily translate into cloud computing excellence.

The most damaging outage affected T-Mobile users who lost their contact information in a SideKick server snafu by a Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) subsidiary, amazingly called “Danger”.

A severe data center outage grounded Air New Zealand last week. This time, IBM (NYSE:IBM) proved to be the culprit responsible for mishandling one of the airline carrier’s mainframe systems as part of a traditional-style outsourcing arrangement.

The cloud computing world wasn’t spared when one of the most promising SaaS vendors also had a system failure last week. Unlike the IBM and Microsoft outages, Workday was able to fully restore its customers’ records and salvage its customers’ satisfaction for important two reasons:

  1. It had the proper back-up and recovery systems in place to safeguard the records.
  2. It had the right notification and communications policies and procedures in place to keep its customers abreast of the status of their data and services.

These incidents clearly illustrate that whenever organizations entrust their data to a third-party, whether via a cloud computing service or a traditional outsourcing arrangement, it is important to carefully evaluate the vendor’s technical and operational capabilities to fully protect the data to mitigate potential business risks.

Despite IBM’s extensive data center experience and Microsoft’s vast resources, they were not up to this challenge. Instead, it is a relative neophyte (Workday) who outperformed the industry titans.

This is further proof that having the right service-oriented DNA, like at Workday, is far more important to succeed in the SaaS and cloud computing market than IBM’s traditional data center experience or Microsoft’s software product-centric expertise.