Life in the Cloud: Working Toward the Five Nines

Life in the Cloud

Just as cell phones are replacing the use of landlines, cloud technology is slowly replacing dedicated router systems. In spite of the rapid advances in IT and computing technology however, neither cellphones nor cloud-based systems function at anywhere near the reliability landlines provide. Landline outages happen, but compared to wireless outages or Internet outages they are relatively rare.

The reliability that has been designed into landline technology over many decades virtually guarantees zero outages, at least on a large scale. This degree of reliability is sometimes referred to as the “Five Nines”, which means 99.999% reliability. Internet operation, even over landlines, is not even close, nor is wireless telecommunication or cloud routing.

The Excellent Backup Capabilities

There is no argument that cloud computing brings many benefits to the table, and by and large many if not most of these systems are quite reliable. The Five Nines however, are an indication that there is much work yet to be done if super-reliability is a goal. Thanks mainly to the excellent backup capabilities and redundancies designed into many of these systems, the Five Nines or something close to it may be achievable.

Just to give one example. If a cloud system is 99.95% reliable, there will be an about 20 minutes a month during which you cannot access it. If you increase the reliability to 99.99%, the downtime drops to 4 minutes a month. At 99.999%, we are talking a few seconds at most. If a greater amount of downtime or non-accessibility is acceptable, fine, but more than a second or two may not be acceptable to all users.

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