Trouble in the Clouds

I was reading an article in Macworld (see Gmail outage caused by overloaded servers) Cloudabout the recent outage of Google’s Gmail. The outage, which lasted for 100 minutes, was a result of changes on request routers that overloaded the system after workers took some Gmail servers offline to perform routine upgrades.

Outages such as this will cast doubts on the reliability of Cloud computing. As more and more companies move into the Cloud there will be increase demand to maintain 24×7 uptime. As any first year sys admin knows, networks need to be maintained and they can only be maintained during off-peak hours. If you are running a global 24×7 operation there really is no off-peak window to perform maintenance.

Some critics say that a business should have multiple geographic redundant load balanced data-centers spread out all over the world. The cost to do such a solution will be out of scope for most businesses. Management and coordination of maintenance and upgrades will be a nightmare. If the big-boy on the  block, Google,  has periodic issues maintaining their level of service what chance does the business down the street have in maintaining uptime in the Cloud?

This we know as a fact – hardware will always fail. It is the nature of the beast. Traffic patterns will always increase beyond estimated projections. There will always be bottlenecks in every network no matter how much you try to compensate for it. How you plan your Cloud solution will determine if you can maintain a 24×7 operation or suffer sporadic outages such as Google. My advice to those of you out there is to plan on how to deal with outages when they occur and they will occur more frequently as more and more businesses move into the clouds.

Learning From Failure

From success to failure is one step; from failure to success is a long road. -Yiddish Proverb

One of the most difficult things that I’ve had to learn over the years was how to embrace failure. Failure is the thing most of us spend the most amount of energy trying to avoid. It is hard to accept, and we don’t look forward failing. However, when you remove the emotional aspect from failure, failure is only feedback. As executives we can and should learn from our failures, by understanding what does not work, and by continuing to adjust our strategies until we find out what does work.

Most of us think that failing is bad. But is it really? As children, we were very familiar with “failure” when we were learning how to walk. We made countless attempts trying to find out what to do so we could walk without constantly falling down. Failure’s role in our lives and careers is to teach us. It is a method of learning; learning to change and adapt. With every failure we have, we learn one more way that does not work and we can focus in the correct ways.

Any new task we strive to accomplish there is always the risk of failure. In fact, we might fail many times before succeeding. It is only by risking failure will we ever be able to grow. If you are failing, at least you are trying something new. Woody Allen once said, “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”

When you fail, ask yourself this question, “What could be positive in this situation?” This allows you to obtain feedback from the experience and to learn from it. Remember, we often achieve our greatest successes right after we have experienced our worst failures.