The Chaos that Resulted from Hurricane Sandy is not Good News for Cloud Computing

We gained first hand experience with Hurricane Sandy and its effects on computing last week. Our experience leads us to posit that, in the aftermath of this disaster, few, if any CIOs for Fortune 1000 businesses headquartered in the Northeast of the United States will likely consider, exclusively, a public cloud solution for enterprise IT computing. The combined effect of a lack of electric power and a completely hobbled wireless data communications infrastructure resulted in no access, whatsoever, to computing over the Internet for several days. For some Fortune 1000 businesses, losing computing for several days can be a mortal wound, and, therefore, is unacceptable.

We are located on Long Island, approximately 35 miles from Manhattan, and, perhaps, 50 miles from Staten Island. We lost our electricity, entirely, early on Tuesday afternoon, October 30, 2012, the first day of the storm. Despite 4G wireless data plan subscriptions for both smart phones and lap top computers, we were entirely unable to communicate over the Internet from our location for a full 24 hours until electricity was restored.

Even a private cloud, backed by a data center equipped with on premise electrical power generators, would not have provided a solution for the problem constituted by the complete disruption in data communications that resulted from this storm. Regardless of how remote computing systems are configured to communicate with a private or public cloud, wireless data communications are still required for connectivity. The fact that at least one of the most popular wireless data providers in the Northeast, Verizon, effectively lost its wireless data network for several days during, and after, the storm renders a private cloud built for data communications over the Internet useless.

Certainly, where employees are able to travel to and from a work place that is supported with its own on premise power generation system, and, further, offers a data communications plant that provides a hard wire connection back to the data center from each work location, then this type of private cloud is a reasonable option. But the reality is that travel to and from central locations was also completely impossible for several days after this storm passed.

The effects of this natural disaster, in our opinion, will be sobering to any market participant who studies them seriously. We think an inevitable conclusion will be that the popularity of Internet protocol for data communication over a wide area network is impressive, but by no means an indicator of reliable, constant performance. Enterprise IT ISVs vigorously promoting the benefits of cloud computing will, in all likelihood, have to re-design their market message to accomodate a likely shift in sentiment on the part of CIOs.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

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