Relying on Applications in the ‘Cloud’

If you have been a Twitter user for any length of time, you won’t be surprised that Twitter is down right now for the umpteenth time this year.

In a recent presentation and ideation with a client, one of the company functional area leaders leapt in with this question: “Twitter is getting so much buzz in BusinessWeek and on blogs, is this something we should make key to our social media strategy?

I did a bit of a humma-humma and ultimately advised them to have an account, begin to participate, watch it (especially for their brand mentions), but make it very peripheral to the rest of their strategies since the service simply isn’t reliable. Many people I know are slowly moving off of it as the ongoing service interruptions are maddening and not worth the effort.

The more time you and I invest online means we’ll actually experience periodic and lengthy outages that heretofore only the hardcore users would. With Amazon’s S3 storage outage taking down Web 2.0 sites that relied upon them, Apple’s botched launch of MobileMe (which now is running perfectly, I might add), Gmail‘s periodic (but quickly repaired) outages, to my own experiences with MediaTemple whom I rely upon to serve a dozen sites, relying upon applications in the cloud that fail is making many of us skittish.

Once per quarter for the last 11 quarters I’ve invested some time each day to look at every one of the “Web 2.0” applications in the cloud off of lists like this one.  I’ve learned that many with an appearance of a strong value proposition, solid and scalable technology, are in the deadpool or been acquired.

Will this cause you or I to eschew apps running over the internet? Nah. I know that I’ll continue to invest more and more of my participation and functionality on the ‘net since it’s just simply too useful…especially with my mobility demanding constant access to my data. You’re probably like that as well, especially if you’re a member of the smartphone club.

Choose wisely though. Don’t overinvest or map mission-critical processes to applications in the cloud that you’re not certain will function, scale or be acquired in the near term. I know that’s hard to do, but it’s also why the big-get-bigger since they have the resources to keep our fear at bay and ensure apps will run.


  1. bex on July 29, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    What you need is a “cloud backup,” something that acts as a functionality cache while the cloud is down.

    They need Twitter “appliances” that sync-back with the original Twitter server. Something that allows you to manage some stuff locally, but eventually spread it to all nodes.

    huh… sounds a bit like Usenet, doesn’t it?

  2. Jeff on July 29, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Let’s face it, Twitter is in the midst of completely overhauling their infrastructure – on the fly. I for one am willing to continue to cut them some slack for the next couple months.

    Secondly, I agree that corporations need to begin studying the various microblog channels. Monitoring your brand should be the first step. Determining why, how and when should engage the channel is the next step. Take your time – 98% of America still doesn’t even know what Twitter is yet – you’ve got time to architect a strategy that makes sense for your organization.

    In terms of living “in the cloud”, services will continue to improve their reliability, and I’m confident that over time cloud computing will deliver greater uptime than current configurations.

    Having said that, I completely agree that one must fully understand the potential ramifications of mapping mission-critical processes to 3rd party apps, no matter what their delivery vehicle.

    In other words…. Living in the cloud is a good thing, just be careful who you hang out with

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About Steve Borsch

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.