Concerns raised over Amazon’s EC2 failure

Since Amazon Web Services (AWS) recent outage, old concerns about the cloud have taken hold of the industry again. Customers were left offline for four days before operations returned to normal.

Foursquare, one of the sites affected, said, “Our usually amazing data centre hosts, Amazon EC2, are having a few hiccups […], which affected us and a bunch of other services that use them.”

‘Hiccups’ does not really sum it up, but also suggests that Foursquare did not panic. Gartner had predicted that the cloud computing market would reach $150bn globally by 2014. This needs adoption to be accelerated, not worried into a slow down.

Amazon are making changes to ensure this never happens again, however, the outage has drawn attention to the disaster recovery, security and compliance risks with cloud services.

If data cannot stay within the EU, (so meeting regulatory requirements), it restricts the business provider in being able to mirror its data centres for business continuity. And so, the responsibility falls back on the business to ensure its own disaster recovery and back up.

Amazon has a good track record with EC2 providing a high level of service, the question is whether other businesses have the money to invest on infrastructure like Amazon.

It is still early days for cloud computing and the potential gaps between a SLA and individual company legal requirements have to be covered to prevent future outages.

Organisations have to choose the right cloud, public or private. A public cloud is not suitable for a company that requires a business-grade service. Everyone needs a SLA, and UK organisations need a local provider. And, discussions with the provider need to match services to a company’s cloud needs with a long-term delivery strategy.

Amazon has been making amends with its customers so they won’t be out of pocket, but its reputation has taken a dent. However, the ‘hiccup’ may serve to pinpoint areas companies need to concentrate on. Maybe, in the long run, the outage will strengthen the power of the cloud.

As one analyst wrote, “you can’t afford to pass up the opportunity cloud computing presents for turning IT from cost centre into revenue driver.” Hopefully, lessons have been learnt.

Chris Baker is the Global Sales and Marketing Director responsible for the expansion of Calsoft Enterprise Solutions internationally. Formerly co-owner of acquired business, Inatech, Chris has been responsible for developing and promoting the company’s position as a specialist in Oracle solutions within the global IT industry. Chris co-founded Inatech in November 2002 merging with Calsoft in 2008. In a career spanning 23 years, Chris has held influential positions at Accenture, Easams, and Marconi. He was a Member of the Oracle UK Consulting Board during his time at Oracle Corporation UK, where he spent 15 years. Chris has a Higher National Diploma in Computing Studies from Farnborough College with distinction.