I woke up this morning and checked TechMeme to see what was happening in the tech world. Three stories jumped out at me. Amazon was down due to a Denial of Service attack. Twitter has been down many times over the past few weeks. Dave Winer says he needs a Plan B for Twitter. Disqus, the blog commenting service, has also been down several times recently.
So, I decided to write a quick post about the unreliability of cloud based services. Normally I use Windows Live Writer, a desktop based program, to compose my posts. But, since this was going to be a quick post with no graphics or photos I decided to use TypePad's web based service. Big mistake. It crashed when I tried to run the spell check service just before posting. I swear, I am not making this up.
Typepad provides a browser window to compose your post. Then when you want to use spell check it calls out to another service and runs your text through it. At precisely this point the service failed. Actually it said it was running the spell checker...forever. I decided to let it run for a while to see if it would recover. Nope. I tried to refresh the screen. It said if I navigate away from this screen all work would be lost. It had already been 20 minutes and nothing else seemed to work so I tried the screen refresh. Gone...everything gone. I tried the back button. No luck.
TypePad has lost my posts under similar circumstances probably 10 times out of 300 posts. So failing 3% of the time isn't bad, right? No way. That is why I stopped using TypePad for posting a long time ago. I thought I would be OK with a quick simple post. But, no, screwed again. That is it for me. Never again.
The web fanatics and blogosphere would have you believe that all applications will move to the web. Some will, most will not. Reliability, scalability, security, and a host of other issues will prevent most businesses from moving their mission critical applications to hosted services or cloud based services. The risk of failure is too great.
Amazon is the leader in cloud based services, but even Amazon has experienced down times for its own business. Cloud services will continue to improve. But my guess is the uptake will take longer than most people predict. Today was another reminder of the reality and risk.