Amazon Crashes The Cloud

Just when we thought things were looking up for SMB and enterprise to move into the cloud via Google Apps, Salesforce and distributed file and database hosting, Amazon loses control over their cloud services hosted in Virginia.

It’s now on day two of the outage and really big social media services like and Hootsuite have experienced serious downtime. Countless other sites running using Amazon’s services for ecommerce and product delivery have also been affected.

A big thank you to Arik Hesseldahl on his post documenting a large list of Amazon E2C sites affected by this outage.

Amazon has a status page you can check to see the status of data centers but that’s not making anyone feel better about the situation

Will enterprise and small business back away From The Cloud?

Unfortunately, events like this outage will cause a resurgence of FUD about storing data in the cloud (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).  I’ve blogged about downtime from cloud services like Gmail, Google Apps and Twitter before.  Whether people are paying for a service or not, when it’s unavailable, they panic.

Very much like 9/11 aftermath, where the NYC tourism and the airline industry were affected, companies who were in the process of exploring, migrating to, budgeting for and planning to move data into “the cloud” may begin second guessing their recommendations to upper management and decision makers.

Small business has quite a lot to gain in terms of saving on infrastructure and technology hires but this may cause many, uncertain of exactly what they stand to gain from the cloud to quietly close the door and stick to expensive, complex on-site information stores.  There is the opportunity to bring in a bit of the cloud, a sort of mix and match of internal and outsource infrastructure.  The government is trying to move to the cloud as well so we may see setbacks there too.

We’re Sorry, The Web Service You Have Requested Has Been Disconnected Or Is No Longer In Service

Some of my favorite web tools like CoTweet – Status blog post (offline nearly all day Thursday) and TrackThePack – Twitter update (still offline Friday 12 noon PST) have been affected as well.

Even the Cydia store, the iPhone jailbreaking app repository, was offline as they host file and payment services in the Amazon cloud system.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ⅿeagan and remixed by @adriarichards

What can companies do to reduce the risk of downtime from the cloud?

This will probably go on for about 6 months and then people will forget about this event until the next major outage.  Is that the way things should be?  Is there reason to fear the cloud?

I think not.  The thing to remember is that Amazon provides a service and it’s up to companies who run in the cloud to have contingency plans in place.  The term “the cloud” is synonymous with redundancy but being prepared can make all the difference.  With VMWare and virtualization of servers reaching an impressive maturity stage, companies may want to consider adding virtualization to their contingency plans.

I attended a VMWare event in Minneapolis a few years ago where a guy shared his case study from working at a major banking institution where they had reduced their downtime from days to hours using VMWare to deal with downtime from natural disasters, terrorist attacks and power grid outages.

It comes down to planning, preparation, being proactive and keeping everyone in the loop once a problem crops up.

This entry was posted in Adventures in Consulting, Data Recovery, downtime on by .

About Adria Richards

Adria Richards is a developer and entrepreneur focused on digital equality. She has worked in the tech industry since 1998 solving big problems for companies of all sizes. Embracing her inner nerd, Adria moved moved to San Francisco in 2010 to pursue her passion for technology. Previously she has worked in technical and training roles for enterprise, nonprofits and startups; from Apple to Zendesk. Adria is a popular speaker and gives talks about culture, communication and diversity. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, yoga and bacon; not necessarily at that order. Her Twitter account is followed by President @BarackObama.

One thought on “Amazon Crashes The Cloud

  1. Kristi Hines

    I think it’s a good reminder that you need a plan. How will you update Twitter if HootSuite is down (I sucked at this yesterday)? What will be missing if X service crashes that is hosting your files?

    What it comes down to is any computer can crash anywhere. You need to make sure you’ve backed up everything somewhere else. Even Google accidentally lost thousands of Gmail accounts – you can never be too safe when it comes to backups and plans of action, just in case.

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