Outside of “The Net”

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I’d wish to share with you something that recently happened to a friend of mine couple of days ago. He runs a small cloud provider and acts as an outsourcer for his selected customers. A very big firm in his country decided to move his brand-new website to one of his datacenters.

He runs two datacenters for disaster-recovery and business continuity.  Each one of the datacenters has its own provider independent IPs, different ASNs and different upstream providers.

What happened is that, once he moved the new website, Google has delisted the website from its search engine.  Absolutely no evidence of this company when searching excepts for its famous products on the Amazon marketplace. No need to say that the marketing of the customer and the developers were blaming my friend.

After an initial investigation, Google failed to retrieve the robots.txt file that is needed to index the website, so it decided to delist its website. Funny enough, other search engines (es: Bing and Qwant) were able to retrieve the same file. On access logs and tcpdump, no sign of the Google crawler.

During a test, he was able to “restore” the situation by moving the complex website with its e-commerce platform to the other datacenter. A deeper investigation revealed that -for some unknown reasons- Google seemed to have blocked the ASN IPs, while other search engines and the rest of the world was able to access the website. While contacting the Google NOC, they said that Google search engine and webmaster tools are unsupported,  so basically my friend was on his own. For the unknown reason, after a couple of weeks, the ASN IP of the datacenter were reachable again.

This reminds me of my previous posts in which I told about how the Internet has been designed to be as much as possible independent from a central point, while the information is now more and more centralized to few companies.  Of course, there is no malicious willing from Google to block my friends IPs, but it turned out that one of these companies have the potential power to decide if you can run your business or not.

The same thing could potentially happen to a public cloud provider: what if Amazon decides to shut down your machines (and it has the right to do so!)?

I’m not against any cloud provider and we need to thank AWS and Azure for bringing such an inspiring innovation to the world of IT. But, as I stated in previous posts, we need to be ready to bring back our business on-premise if forced to do so.

Just a couple of hints:

  1. Create your local micro-cloud on-premise, say with OpenStack and Kubernetes, so that you can start and scale up quickly
  2. Use open data and open standards and avoid any layered product that is offered by the cloud provider, it will lock you in.
  3. Automate deployments as much as you can, so that is reproducible and can be run on-premise

The idea I’m currently advocating is to apply the Raiffeisen model to IT to foster a complementary alternative to public clouds and big outsourcers so that heterogeneous enterprises in a local territory can team up to create a small micro-cloud and save.