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Director, OpenShift Strategy at Red Hat. Founder of Rishidot Research, a research community focused on services world. His focus is on Platform Services, Infrastructure and the role of Open Source in the services era. Krish has been writing @ CloudAve from its inception and had also been part of GigaOm Pro Analyst Group. The opinions expressed here are his own and are neither representative of his employer, Red Hat, nor CloudAve, nor its sponsors.

15 responses to “Wikileaks, Amazon And Public Clouds”

  1. Simon Munro

    I came to similar conclusions here.

  2. chris Jangelov

    Until Amazon presents an acceptable explanation – maybe Wikileaks broke the rules in the TOS – I will:
    1. Cancel all internal work aiming at trying to include cloud services in our IT strategy.
    2. Buy my books in other places.
    3. Closely monitor how other supliers react. This could be a blow to the whole concept of cloud computing.

  3. Christoph Wegener

    A lot of blurb around one simple question:
    “What will a service provider do, when one customer becomes a liability to the provider and endangers the entire core business of the service provider?”
    Answer: Make a smart decision about the liability. AWS got rid of it and I probably would have done the same.

    I really don’t understand what problem you are projecting into this specific event.
    A cloud service provider is simply a service provider. The enter into binding agreements with customers based on contract law. Just like any other business in the free world.
    And contracts are either enforceable or not, depending on various conditions (performance, delivery, non-violation of public policy, etc.).
    Where is the problem with that???

    1. P Goyal

      Any customer can become a liability if a vocal violent minority do not like, say, your ideas. The question is did Amazon follow due process? Was Amazon subject to a legal injunction? The answer seems to be “no” and in that case every, at least Amazon, cloud computing customer has to reconsider their use of public clouds.

  4. Kamesh Aiyer

    A cloud service provider is a public utility that is licensed by the state and has a partial monopoly because their customers cannot easily switch to another provider. Imagine if Google suddenly decided to cancel your email account because the government complained about you.

    (Oops. sorry they tried that in China. But then they quit because the govt tried to verify it. Or something).

    Or maybe not even the government but just some organization that does not like you.

    Taking the classic libertarian pov, they should be allowed to do it if the contract you signed does not prevent it. But that sounds like classic “it’s in the fine print” chicanery.

    I guess, caveat emptor rules again. At least in the libertarian world.

  5. Rob La Gesse

    Interesting post. And the comments are interesting as well. What I think needs to be kept in mind here is that this really has nothing to do (specifically) with Cloud – it has to do with keeping your promises to your customers, and keeping them online. A massive DDoS attack is a problem for a larger customer base than just the target.

    Almost (probably all) hosting providers make this clear in their “Terms of Use” or “Acceptable Use Policies”.

    And if you were hosting this site in house, and a similar attack occurred, you would probably do what AMZ did – shut the site down so the rest of your network would function. Shut the site down so your other internal functions would stay online, and your other internal customers could remain productive.

    It doesn’t matter in this case if it is in-house, traditionally hosted, or in “the cloud” – self-preservation rules apply to all.

    This isn’t a cloud story. This is an age old story of doing what makes sense to service the majority of your customers – something most customers would expect a hosting company to do. Or any company, for that matter.

    Rob La Gesse
    Chief Disruption Officer
    Rackspace Hosting
    @kr8tr on Twitter

  6. Brian

    Great question and responses on both sides.

    I think the core of this discussion is whether Amazon started down a slippery slope.
    Yes WikiLeaks is engaged in questionable activity, and MAY have been terminated based on the BELIEF they are in the possession of material they should not have.

    We could debate whether that has been substantiated by the appropriate parties before Amazon took action. We could debate the economic impact and whether this was legal grounds for Amazon’s actions.

    The author’s point; however, is that any company using public cloud services has some unique risks to consider. Events like this highlight those risks, thus may inhibit organizations from migrating to the cloud. One poster has already said as much (although he should consider many of these risks don’t apply to a private, internal cloud.)

    Amazon may have just set the prescedent that citizens can force any organization out of business permanently, simply by launching a short-term denial of service attack against them, then letting the hosting provider do the rest out of convenience and in the name of the rest of their customers.

    If you have ever been responsible for or relied on an organization’s IT services, you realize how distressing this is.