Business Continuity Failure may have a long term silver lining

The Amazon EC2 "failure" has probably caused their customers to take a hard look at their business continuity plans and Amazon working hard to improve their own resilience so that they can recover the confidence of their customers and maintain a dominant market position.
Business Continuity Lessons from EC2 FailureFor some time the potential offered by the cloud has been the topic of discussion between BC and IT Security Professionals. Some are positive and see the potential for economies and resilience to be improved, others see the risks of creating a critical and possibly difficult to address dependency. Both are right and the example set by Amazons embarrassing failure is in many ways potentially fortuitous to the industry as a whole as it highlights the basic issue involved. Stuff will fail and you have to plan thoroughly for it!
Whilst it is easy to be critical of Amazon, for many who have used its EC2 Cloud the benefits to their performance, business continuity and resilience have been significant. Many have been able to achieve higher levels of uptime and reduce costs whilst managing higher demands. They have been winners from their early commitment to the technology in many ways. However, that seems to be being somewhat overshadowed by the single, albeit massive, failure seen and many are now looking more cautiously at the cloud and this is a good thing. 
Actually, depending on how you define it, 'Cloud Computing' has been around for a very long time, but the key difference between the Cloud and the previous iterations is the marketing and the explosion of interest that has driven dramatic growth. It also comes at a time when budget, convergence and platform issues are combining to challenge IT Pro's to deliver much more for less. 
Under these circumstances it is fairly easy to see how pressures can combine to create a short term focus where Business Continuity and Security lessons from the past are lost or forgotten. Back in the day when Word Processors came in very big packages and the likes of IBM and Olivetti dominated this mysterious dark art, there was gathering dust in the corner was a Typewriter. This was a necessary back-up to cover the inevitable breakdown or glitch and still enable the Directors letters to be sent out. Remember the reams of paper print outs spewing from dot matrix printers that were taken as an 'insurance' against failure and the tape cassettes that were ferried around (and still are in many institutions) to protect the business. Well its much the same lesson with this Cloud Technology, if we don't learn from the past, we learn through bitter experience.  
It seems to take a few big, high profile failures for folks to really learn what steps need to be taken to build resilience and whilst I have some sympathy with Amazon the long term benefit will hopefully be that cloud projects will include much more discussion on the aspects that need to be addressed to generate real resilience! 
Lets hope that the EC2 experience will prompt some deeper thinking by far more of the Cloud Providers and ensure that those that are looking at using it are a bit more critical in their examination of BCM and Resilience approaches being taken.