In The Cloud do you have visibility of the Physical Infrastructure? No, which means a problem when a Superstorm like Sandy Hits

The way some people talk the Cloud is the only way to go.  Part of being the Cloud is it is Opaque. You can't see the details.  The Cloud is not transparent.  What kind of transparency.  If you knew Superstorm like Sandy was coming to hit an area where you have your Cloud Service, can you determine the physical risk to the facility?

I was reading GigaOm's Barb Darrow's post on lessons from Superstorm Sandy for IT and it is a good summary of some of the lessons.

What superstorm Sandy taught us about protecting IT infrastructure




Getty Images
photo: Getty Images

Some post-storm lessons are no brainers — make sure you have the right fuel hoses as well as the fuel itself? Duh. Others may come as surprise.

Then I thought.  Wait if you are in a Cloud service in NYC, you can't find out anything like she suggests.

3: Carefully assess the backup power situation

Even if you have plenty of fuel for backup generators, it won’t help if the generators themselves or the pumps to supply them get flooded in a basement. If this gear must stay on lower floors, make sure it’s fully encapsulated and waterproofed, said Michael Levy, analyst at 451 Research.

Post Sandy, service providers should also make sure they have roll-up generators as well as fuel hoses onsite and easily accessible, said Ryan Murphey VP of operations for PEER 1 Hosting. Oh, and make sure those hoses fit both the generators and the fuel trucks.

If you were in a colocation site, you can tour the facility to do your own assessment and you have contacts to discuss the physical facility.  Can you communicate to the facility department at AWS in Ashburn, VA?  Hell no.

If you have mission critical information in the cloud do you want more transparency?  Hell Yes.

Add this to another reason why users move out of Cloud's like AWS to colocation facilities.

Here is an example where AWS's data centers went down vs. Digital Realty and Dupont Fabros during a power outage.

The two largest wholesale data center operators in the northern Virginia market said their data centers performed flawlessly during last weekend’s electrical storms, maintaining electrical power during grid outages and keeping customers online. Digital Realty Trust (DLR) owns 19 data centers in the region, whileDuPont Fabros Technology (DFT) operates seven facilities. Between them, the two companies operate more than 3.3 million square feet of data center space in northern Virginia.

The announcements provide a contrast to the performance of Amazon Web Services, which had a data center that was knocked offline by power outages during the storms that hit northern Virginia Friday night. While the storms were powerful, other leading data center operators were able to keep their facilities online. The announcements also indicated where Amazon’s failures didn’thappen. Amazon is a major tenant for Digital Realty, leasing 448,895 square feet in six properties, including several in northern Virginia. The announcement made it clear that the Amazon outage did not occur in one of Digital Realty’s buildings, as some have speculated.

Digital Realty said its data centers in northern Virginia “operated as designed and engineered to maintain the highest degree of reliability. These uptime metrics are based on a comprehensive evaluation of the Company’s facilities worldwide using standard industry methodology.

Cloud's have outages.  And with lack of transparency of physical facilities your risk exposure is unknown.  Kind of scary.