Fallout from Friday's storm: How reliable is cloud computing?

The outages affected companies such as Netflix and Pinterest, not the government. But several federal agencies have moved e-mail and other services to cloud servers, which are housed at remote data centers and typically managed by technology companies such as Amazon or Google. …

“Last week’s powerful thunderstorms, along with the massive disruptions they caused, exposed some of the vulnerabilities of cloud computing,” said the panel’s chairman, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), in a statement. “But I also believe the problems extend way beyond consumer convenience and customer service. There are some serious privacy issues which we need to look at as well.”

The federal government has been aggressively embracing more extensive use of cloud servers since 2010 and closing government data centers. Cloud services allow for massive volumes of information to be stored remotely, generally on several different servers, so that it can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. The data often is encrypted.