First Apple, then Amazon and now Google. Can anybody do cloud services well?

With all the fuss in recent weeks about Apple’s dismal failure with MobileMe, in particular around providing a stable and reliable service, its interesting to see that today Google is having issues also. With Gmail down, Twitter is on fire as bloggers start complaining about their lack of email access. It’s also worth remembering that 3 weeks ago Amazon experienced some significant downtime in its S3 storage service, used by a number of Web 2.0 companies for image hosting.

Without wishing to tempt fate, the stalwarts of internet communications, AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft have all done exceptionally well in recent years with their IM and email services. Looking back to the late 1990’s there were issues seemingly ever month or two, but now with their vast datacenters and experience, all three of the above have services that are much more reliable. However they too still experience issues occasionally, Hotmail had one earlier this year, which makes me wonder how quickly the uptake of services like Live Mesh will be.

With people now wanting to move their business applications and data storage to the internet, 100% availability is the only uptime that users and companies will accept. If you can’t search your email for that critical file when you need it, you’re potentially another dissatisfied customer.  The question is whether anybody can deliver this, and if not, how much downtime will users tolerate – is three nines really attainable? Is it really affordable?

While the issue of data security is always going to be the biggest priority, internet companies are going to need to do much better in order to match the desktop experience. By the looks of things, cloud services still have a way to go yet.