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When Good Clouds Go Bad

Apr 4 2014, 1:22am CDT | by , in News | Technology News

When Good Clouds Go Bad
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When Good Clouds Go Bad

Western Digital has been actively promoting its “My Cloud” cloud backup and remote access for their branded external storage products (they had a significant display of these services at the 2014 CES). Local network attached (NAS) storage devices back up their content to the WD cloud and the data in the local NAS can be accessed remotely.  These products are a popular example of a cloud storage option for consumers and small businesses.   We might call this a personal cloud.

Starting on March 26, 2014 the server that WD uses to support these services went down and until midnight on April 2, 2014 many customers experienced problems with their cloud backups and remote access.  This was especially an issue for users whose router was set up in relay mode rather than with port forwarding enabled.  Users wrote a number of items on relevant chat areas about the problems they were having with the My Cloud service.   Not all users experienced the multi-day service issues.

WD insiders said that the problem was not one of capacity to handle the number of customers using the service, but rather a failure in the server that supports the service.  When WD brought the server back up it took several days of manual work to load the server and make sure all the functionality was working again.

WD says that they learned a lot in recovering the server and that if this should happen again they have installed optimization and automation to bring the server back much faster.  As more customers use services like those WD is offering it is important to minimize downtime and create fail-over mechanisms to provide continued service to customers when a system fails.

All electronic systems can fail.  The question is, how rapidly they can recover.  Even cloud services can fail, and the WD problems are much smaller in their impact than cloud service failures with companies such as Amazon.  In August 2013 Amazon’s Northern Virginia data center customers experienced significant problems caused by the failure of a single network device.  However the entire incident only lasted 49 minutes.  An Amazon failure in 2012 knocked several popular web sites down for several hours.

Hopefully Western Digital and other personal cloud services can provide rapid recovery when they have a server problem.  Unreliable service to a large number of customers for close to 8 days will not be acceptable if it happens again.  On the other hand,  issues with access to the cloud is a good reason to have local backup as well as backup in the cloud.  When trying to save data and access it when you need it, you are playing the odds.  Local backup can protect your content, when good clouds go bad.

 

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

 

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