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Google's Cloud 'Not Fully Redundant,' Company Admits

Google -- which has experienced high-profile outages in recent weeks -- has told regulators and investors that its network has a number of potential vulnerabilities, including some data systems that aren't redundant.

Over the past one to two months, Google has been struck by a number of outages to its Gmail service, Google news and other offerings -- and each time a number of questions are raised about the search giant's reliability when it comes to Software as a Service and cloud computing.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company, though, has made no bones about where its network is vulnerable. In public filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Google has spelled out several times that its operations face risks from network issues. In its most recent 10-Q filing with the SEC, the company writes:

"The availability of our products and services depends on the continuing operation of our information technology and communications systems. Our systems are vulnerable to damage or interruption from earthquakes, terrorist attacks, floods, fires, power loss, telecommunications failures, computer viruses, computer denial of service attacks, or other attempts to harm our systems.

"Some of our data centers are located in areas with a high risk of major earthquakes. Our data centers are also subject to break-ins, sabotage, and intentional acts of vandalism, and to potential disruptions if the operators of these facilities have financial difficulties. Some of our systems are not fully redundant, and our disaster recovery planning cannot account for all eventualities," the company writes.

"The occurrence of a natural disaster, a decision to close a facility we are using without adequate notice for financial reasons, or other unanticipated problems at our data centers could result in lengthy interruptions in our service. In addition, our products and services are highly technical and complex and may contain errors or vulnerabilities.

"Any errors or vulnerabilities in our products and services, or damage to or failure of our systems could result in interruptions in our services, which could reduce our revenues and profits, and damage our brand."

While some may consider this simple boilerplate language, the fact that some of its data center infrastructure is not backed up takes on new meaning in the light of its spate of new outages.

Amazon.com, which is considered one of the premier companies that offer cloud-related hosting services, also says in its most recent SEC filing that its systems are not fully redundant; Amazon.com, though, has not suffered through the high frequency of outages that Google has suffered and cloud experts have generally given Amazon kudos for maintaining a geographically diverse set of data centers -- considered to be critical in providing uptime and reliability regardless of geopolitical events or natural disasters in specific regions.

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