Microsoft’s cleverly named “software plus services” strategy would probably work better with users if their cloud computing centers would stop turning into smoke and mirrors.
A week or so ago, Microsoft’s Danger server farm, which holds the cloud (and usually the only) T-Mobile Sidekick subscriber’s data came crashing down out of the data cloud, depriving users of their calendar, address book, and other key data. That caused a ruckus all by itself, with users stuck without vital data during the outage. After all, cloud computing and storage is only really useful if companies like Microsoft can reliably store valuable data on their servers.
As if that outage were not bad enough, it now seems possible that at least some of the data which was unavailable may have been completely lost, according to a CNET story. That is truly a critical loss, since the Sidekick storage system in the cloud is intended to free up storage in the Sidekick, so much of the data for the T-Mobile phone exists only in the cloud on Microsoft servers; there is no local copy of the data on the handset. If that data has been lost, it is well and truly gone forever.
It cannot be said with certainly how many people lost all or part of their data in the incident. It is possible, though, that this could be the worst case yet of data loss in the cloud, as opposed to temporary outages. Certainly, the timing could not have been much worse for Microsoft. In about a month’s time, the Redmond software giant is due to roll out Windows Azure, the cloud computing operating system that is supposed to tie together all of the company’s cloud computing efforts.
The data and operating architecture for the Danger system, which lost the Sidekick data, is completely different from the Azure system that is due to be introduced next month. Still, both personal and business prospects for Microsoft’s cloud computing services will have been taken aback by the failure of the Danger system. A user must be able to trust the safety and reliability of a cloud computing system. This recent incident makes it more difficult to entrust your data to Microsoft.