Yesterday was not a good day for those that would seek to show that computing is now just another commoditised, reliable utility.

Item: The London Stock Exchange was knocked out for seven hours on a day when Fannie and Freddie mania would have sparked a trading frenzy. The LSE said there had been a "software" issue.

Item two: The InterContinental Exchange oil futures market was also down for about an hour yesterday.

Item three: The Johannesburg Stock Exchange was also down for a similar period as a result of the London issue. The JSE was also down for several hours on 14 July, when it blamed an issue with IOS software on a Cisco network switch.

Nicholas G. Carr and the cult devotees of service-based IT might disagree, but days like Missing Monday suggest that a stable supply of bits and bytes should never be taken for granted and that failures - whether through scalability issues or plain old Sod's Law -- often occur just when you need the network most. There again, with electrical power supply under siege everywhere, rampaging hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the UK flooding, maybe reliability of data networks, utilities and the weather really are moving closer together.

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