The Cloud and the Storm

I just read an article Sunday morning over breakfast that was considering the move to cloud computing. The particular subject of this article was the rumor that Apple may offer streaming music in the near future. I can see the obvious benefits of the cloud. What worries me are the not so likely downsides.

In all honesty, the chance of a serious problem with the cloud is small. But like Taleb's Black Swan, the difficulty is that when something goes wrong with the cloud, it affects not just one person, but everyone. Random computer failures are just that, random. They don't all come at once. A problem that would affect the cloud would be so big that it would shut down everything all at once. And if you think that the experts think of everything, remember that no one thought that selling mortgages to people who couldn't pay them back would cause a global recession either.

Lest this seem farfetched, an event that could do that has occurred before, the solar storm of 1859. Now, the people who set up data centers probably worry about this often. I certainly hope they do. What I worry about is not that the massive datacenters run by Google and Microsoft and companies I've never even heard of will fail from the coming storm, but rather that the unexpected consequences of millions of simultaneous independent computer failures could be the end of the system.

I am clearly not the only one thinking this, because we find a product designed for just this problem, the Electronic Bunker.

 For those thinking of getting all Fallout, the Electronic Bunker is not cheap: $3500 is the base price without hard drives or helium shield gas. But, this seems like a valuable item for the survivalist.