Last week I received an email from the IT department alerting us of an Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage.
As I went through my day, I had trouble accessing some websites, and I couldn’t load some of my podcasts.
I was mostly unaffected. But the same wasn’t true for the rest of the nation.
The historic nine-hour cloud outage affected everything from Roombas to online test-taking platforms.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s the middle of finals week for most students.
Even Amazon’s retail business took a hit.
Entire warehouses shut down, making it impossible to deliver packages during the holiday rush.
Soon after, pundits across all major news outlets discussed how to avoid this issue in the future.
My favorite was when they would bring up the concept of a “multiple” or “distributed” cloud system.
They kept mentioning this concept. And they had no idea they were referring to a solution that already exists.
Today’s Internet Is a Fragile Thing
DARPA, the original architects of the internet, tried to create a distributed network.
That way it could survive a nuclear strike on any part of it.
That’s far from what we have now.
Today there are large centralized data centers run by three cloud-services providers.
A simple glitch or human error at any of these points can bring down entire parts of the internet.
And that’s usually what happens.
According to an analysis by Uptime Institute, hardware or software problems or human error caused over 65% of public outages in 2020.
Malicious activity only caused 2% of the outages.
So, it’s not surprising that there has been at least one major cloud outage almost every month of this year from the three major providers.
These outages don’t just cause annoyances and frustrations. They cost people and businesses a lot of money.
A Merchant Machine study found that internet outages hit the large tech companies the hardest.
An hour-long outage could cost Amazon $44 million, and Google $21 million.
So, if the problem is a few centralized data centers prone to failure, the solution is to decentralize and distribute them.
Crypto Can Make the Cloud More Resilient
This is exactly what a few cloud-crypto projects are doing.
They’ve created a network of thousands of nodes spread across the globe.
Each of these nodes is a device that meets certain minimum standards with unused space to spare.
The operators of these nodes receive crypto for contributing their idle space and computing power.
Now, let’s suppose a node goes down the same way a data center might.
That’s fine. There are still plenty of other active nodes with copies of the pieces of data that you’re looking to access.
In other words, these decentralized networks have eliminated the problem of cloud outages.
In fact, Ian King recently recommended just such a crypto project.
Check out his Next Wave Crypto Fortunes service to learn about it.
Research Analyst, Strategic Fortunes
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