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Before we depend on the cloud, maybe it better be more like the airlines

I’m just back from an amazing conference – the Microsoft Global Chief Information Officer Summit in Seattle.  Which, since I’m based on the East Coast, involved a rather long couple of flights.  Now, today, nobody has very much nice to say about airlines, but I’ve always found it remarkable that even amidst the stresses facing the industry, we takes its safety for granted.  Gripe, gripe, gripe, yes, but we’re willing to trust our lives to an industry that is widely disliked by so many.

So why is flying so safe?  Because the industry has made huge investments in making sure that mistakes don’t get repeated, that the causes for accidents are understood, and that enough resources are put into redundancy, engineering and creating wide margins for error.  Indeed, pilots are even rewarded for reporting problems.

Which brings me to the future of so-called ‘cloud’ computing.  Google has recently blown it yet again when its contact database went down, stranding users who depend on access to the information.  Not too long ago, the gmail service went down as well.  I would argue that before companies and individuals trust their digital lives to the so-called ‘cloud’ that they are going to have to get just as reliable and just as focused on preventing disasters as the airlines.  And there doesn’t seem to be a push in that direction, at least yet. 

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