We all ooh and ahh when lightning zaps from one cloud to another, but when the cloud that gets hit is the one where we store our data, suddenly it's not so cool.
The Register UK is reporting that last night lightning struck a transformer in Dublin, Ireland, which caused a large explosion and some major power problems within the tech-heavy region. Among the hardest hit were Microsoft's and Amazon's cloud storage facilities. Some people will be without their cloudy-goodness for up to 48 hours, as servers are having to be manually restarted and cycled up, but as of right now it doesn't look as though any data has been permanently lost.
Meanwhile, PopSci is reporting that three recent solar flares, also known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are poised to screw up our power grid and various satellite communications in the northern US. Awesome. This is all part of a ramping up of solar activity, which we think will beging to slow again in early 2013 (if it doesn't bring Mayan Rapturepocalypse first). Until then, these types of disturbances are likely to be fairly common.
This all brings up some important points. We back up the things on our hard drives to the cloud because we assume it's safe and fool-proof. It bears remembering that the cloud is not a magical entity; it's just more hard drives that happen to be not in your house. As such, they are subject to failures and random acts of nature just like those that are choking on dust-bunnies in your apartment right now.
So, what can you do? Well, pick the right cloud. It's especially important to choose a cloud solution that has redundant copies of your data that are stored in multiple physical locations, preferably far away from each other. Don't trust cloud solutions that keep all of their eggs your data in one basket data centre. Ultimately, though, when mother nature cranks up the gas, we're all bugs on her motorcycle helmet's wind-screen. [via The Register and PopSci.]