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Understanding Cloud Failures

An analysis of 172 incidents reveal new categories of problems

1 min read
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Illustration: Brandon Palacio

graphic illustration of cloud failures

Illustration: Brandon Palacio
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To many, cloud computing kicked off in 2008, with the rapid proliferation in the use of Amazon.com’s Web and storage services. A new type of computing has inevitably led to new problems. Working under the auspices of the Nanyang Technological University and the Cloud Security Alliance, both in Singapore, and the University of Waikato in New Zealand, we set out to categorize these problems. We studied 11 491 articles from 39 news sources published from 2008 to 2012 that reported on cloud-computing outages, identifying 172 unique incidents. We could not assign a cause for all (although the proportion of unexplained incidents is declining, providers are still cautious with information). But our analysis of the 75 percent of incidents for which a cause was given revealed that the current list of the top seven threats proposed by the international Cloud Security Alliance is insufficient. We recommend five more categories: hardware failure, natural disaster, service closure, cloud-related malware, and inadequate infrastructure planning. In particular, hardware failure is one of the top three threats, responsible for 10 percent of incidents.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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