By now, many of my readers have heard about the diaster involving Sidekick phones. Since I’m now seen as a cloud evangelist and this was a cloud service, I suppose I should comment. Some people are already using this incident to “prove” that you can’t trust cloud storage, which is silly. Others are trying to avoid the criticism by claiming it wasn’t a cloud, which I find even siller. Yes, it was a cloud. No, the failure wasn’t because it was a cloud. It wasn’t even a failure of outsourcing, even though apparently T-Mobile had outsourced operations to Microsoft who outsourced a SAN upgrade to Hitachi (cue “spontaneous” jeering from all of EMC’s “independent” bloggers). The data loss occurred because the SAN upgrade was started without an adequate backup, which is a failure of basic IT competence. Such failures could happen just as easily inside an entirely private data center, and often have. The real lessons here are pretty old ones:

  • When it comes to storing your data, redundancy and diversity still matter. You should never have only one copy of the data, under one entity’s control and vulnerable to that one entity screwing up.
  • Just because you’ve delegated some functionality somewhere, you’re not absolved of responsibility for planning around failures.

Cloud computing and storage can be used to replace a large part of your traditional data center. They cannot replace a data-protection strategy. No vendor – product or service, cloud or otherwise – can do that for you. You still have to design and execute that strategy yourself, and oversee anyone involved in that execution. Where T-Mobile/Microsoft failed was in not paying attention to assets under their control. It was a failure of duty, not of technology, but we can still learn from it.