Unless you go out of your way to avoid current events, you know about the turmoil in Iran and the passing of the world’s biggest pop music icon. And if you follow computer tech news, you’ve noticed a lot of chatter on how these events are impacting the Internet, showing us either the strength or weakness of the system, depending on your point of view. Some of those POVs are darn near apocalyptic.
One camp points to web site and service shutdowns following the crush of news seekers looking for info on Michael Jackson’s death as being failures. TechCrunch described the web as “collapsing.” Data Center Knowledge was less sensational, using the verb “creaks.” VentureBeat calls the event a “test” warning of the need to improve. Cloud computing blog ElasticVapor went all in, calling it “The Day The Cloud Died.” Given the subject matter relates to an actual death, I would call that a title of poor taste, but even worse, it’s obviously grossly inaccurate. If the Cloud died Thursday, then how are we reading this today?
Meanwhile, in the midsts of citizen protests, the Iranian government has been trying to maintain control over its people’s access to the Internet, blocking such services as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Yet, users and service providers alike are finding ways to circumvent the blockades and keep the outside world in the loop. Twitter most famously rescheduled a service outage to keep Iranian tweets flowing through daylight hours. Try as they might, short of outright pulling the plug (which would disrupt business and government too), the Iranian government can’t stop the signal.
Between the fallout of these two events, I think the strength of the Internet has shined through. While it is inevitable that a server will occasionally fail or a set of IP addresses might be blocked, the web that connects us remains intact. I admit we saw several cracks in the Cloud this week, but far from “collapsing” or “dying,” I think we saw it quickly reform as well.
My office did suffer from sluggish connectivity that morning and access was completely disrupted for a few minutes at one point, but the entire slowdown lasted less than an hour. If there was anything resembling a “collapse,” I didn’t see it. In this test of the Cloud, I think it passed. What do you think? Is the web in dire need of reconstruction? Were you shaken by service disruptions? Are reports of the Cloud’s demise sensationally exaggerated? And thinking deeper, are we implementing new server technologies fast enough to ensure the Cloud doesn’t fail in the future?