Not all Cloud Services are Created Equal

A couple of weeks ago we saw headlines about the outage at one of Amazon’s data centers on April 21st. Many of the companies using Amazon were impacted with prolonged downtime, some for 24 hours or more. Unfortunately this is not the first time this happened for Amazon, and while Amazon is trying to compensate their users with a credit for the downtime, it doesn’t repair the damage to the reputation of the Amazon cloud infrastructure, or of any business relying on its infrastructure.

At Soonr, we are also concerned about the Amazon outage, because we think it casts an undeserved cloud (no pun intended) over the industry as a whole. The world needs to understand that what happened at Amazon doesn’t mean that cloud computing is not trustworthy (as it’s suggested in some coverage of the event) or that all cloud-based services can expect similar downtime issues.

First let’s take a look at Amazon.  As we all know, Amazon started and is still best known as an online bookstore and retailer. Services like S3 and AWS are really side businesses for Amazon, monetizing excess capacity from the main retail business via cloud infrastructure services including hosted storage and databases.

Today, companies like Dropbox, Foursquare and others are relying on Amazon’s “side businesses” for their critical cloud infrastructure. Now if Amazon has an issue, these services also have an issue.

Servicing many successful, rapidly expanding companies is a challenge for Amazon; just imagine planning hardware purchases without knowing exactly how fast these are growing. When is the time to buy more hardware? Lease more space to host the hardware? How can they ensure enough bandwidth going in and out of these data centers? And so on.

At Soonr, we considered using Amazon many years ago, but ultimately decided against it. We retain full control over our own infrastructure and are fully accountable to our users. We did not want to simply point to Amazon’s policies for security and uptime, as others services like Dropbox. Soonr is fundamentally created differently than any of these other services.

Even more frightening than blindly trusting a third party with the heart of your business, imagine trying to migrate all of this data out of Amazon one day. Without physical access to the data inside the Amazon data-centers, businesses would have to transfer their data out over the internet, which would be costly and easily take months. If I worked in one of these companies or used one of the services, I would be praying for Amazon uptime and security every single day.

We have had an operations department since we started Soonr in 2005, which is responsible for assuring that our service is running 24x7x365. We run and have full access to multiple data centers around the world. Data is always stored in more than one physical location, and guarded with the highest levels of security, encrypted both during transmission to and storage within our data centers. Soonr is also HIPAA compliant which means that we meet the security requirements of the healthcare industry for storing private information.

Because of these and other strict measures, Soonr is trusted by some of the world’s largest telco’s and other partners to provide cloud services. And our customers – more than 40,000 businesses around the world –understand the significance of working with a proven, carrier-grade cloud service. We also recognize that security is evolving and continue to participate in audits by our partners and others to ensure that Soonr meets the highest standards of security.

Businesses need to understand whom they trust their critical data to and how these companies operate,  because ultimately this can have direct impact on business. The cloud obviously holds a lot of promises for today’s agile business looking for efficiency and productivity gains, but that has to be based on a solid and trustworthy platform, the question is if an Amazon hosted approach meets this requirement. It’s our belief that businesses will soon recognize that not all cloud services are created equal.

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