When An Amazon Cloud Outage Rains On Your Parade

I was on a small Greek island on one of those get away from it all holidays so I missed the Amazon AWS meltdown a couple of Fridays ago that dragged down services like Instagram, Netflix and others.

Understandably these third party AWS services caught a lot of flack from their users who are, by and large, are unaware of the fact that the services are pumped through to them via AWS. All they care about is they sign up to a service and expect it to be delivered. Is this a fair attitude? Probably, after all do you know what cloud host provides a home for your services?

Eggs in one basket

What this latest screw up makes obvious to be is that not enough thought has been given to geographic redundancy and having a backup service that could be relied upon to provide continuity when the original host goes belly up. Putting all your eggs in one basket might keep the prices down for subscribers but it is those subscribers who will go for the throat when their budgeted package goes down.

Amazon is clearly at fault here by not having alternative servers in another geographic location which is could turn to if one set of servers is taken out for whatever reason.

What this Groundhog Day outage also highlights is this misplaced concept among some end users that the Internet is free and to enjoy the security of a back up server system there is a cost element that has to be considered.Maybe the users who enjoy the likes of “hobby” sites like Instagram and Netflix would not cough up the cash for a smell premium to ensure continued use.

Backup premium

However, if you run an organisation for which business continuity is critical then you wouldn’t balk at paying a small amount more for that confidence. I cannot see it being cost prohibitive because if the backup only kicks in when the main service falls over and dies then there is no on going bandwidth drain, just server space to consider.

As someone said during the outage: “Companies seem to forget that the quality of hosting service you use is the public perception of your company. You can have the coolest website, the best marketing machine, an awesome product or service, but it all counts for nothing when your customer a blank screen.”

So what are you going to do to protect yourself the next time there’s an outage?

Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications professional who has worked for some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. In the 1990s he became interested in how emerging Internet-based technologies could change the way that people worked and became an administrator on the Telework Europa Forum on CompuServe. With other colleagues he took part in a four year European Commission sponsored project to look at the way that the Internet could benefit remote communities. His blog is a resource for SMEs who want to use cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.