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Google Outage Highlights Over-Reliance on Cloud Providers

Francesco Altomare
20.08.2020
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Google falls over…

In case you missed the news Google just suffered a worldwide outage of a number of services. These included many common workplace apps such as Gmail, Google Drive and Google Meet. The last 3 organisations I have worked with have all been ‘Google houses’, meaning they rely entirely on the uptime of these services for corporate IT to run smoothly.

Now, downtime is incredibly rare with Google, and no doubt when companies try to run their own mail or file services they are infinitely more fragile. But the outage does highlight a dangerous over reliance on the tech they and other cloud providers provide.

The illusion of choice and globalization

If you’re not using Google you’re probably very deep into Amazon or Microsoft. While this may seem to give you some choice about where to put your corporate IT services, you’ll most likely still end up with all your eggs in one proverbial basket.

It’s a worrying thought as if we were to be hit by a natural disaster (spanning continents), then the global infrastructures would very likely not hold up. We’d need to fall back to more local services, which are now pretty much non-existent. It’s the same problem as food production and energy supplies, we’ve become totally dependent on global economies and make the incorrect assumption that these supplies will always be available

Another way?

While there really isn’t too much other choice at the moment there are other ways to operate. Did you know that the big 3 cloud providers do not operate in Russia at all? They have a plethora of other suppliers to fill the gap and it works pretty well.

The EU recently recognized the over reliance on US providers as a problem too and launched their own ‘European Cloud’ initiative. While this seems a step in the right direction it still leaves individual countries exposed to major disruptions. It’s unrealistic to think every country can have their own public cloud platform, but perhaps as services like Kubernetes begin to standardize the landscape we can look forward to more options for hosting and countries can have some IT sovereignty.

Panic stations

In the meantime we’ll have to face the reality that most of the world replies on services from the big 3 providers and have no backup plan. We’ll have to pray that we’re not hit by solar flares, meteors or anything else that might come at us.

This is 2020 however, and it seems anything and everything can and will happen!

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