A Very Cloudy Day for Amazon
If Amazon.com wanted to pull a Mick and Keith and get everyone
off of its cloud, it probably could have found a better way to do it.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) suffered an outage that knocked client sites off
the web for hours. Outages, according to several reports, began around 5 a.m.
EST and continued for hours later. As of 5 p.m., according to a Bloomberg
News report, Amazon claimed that customers in all but one time zone were
Among those taking a hit were Foursquare, Formspring.me, Quora,
Reddit and Salesforce.com. Another AWS customer BigDoor Media was not as
At 11:40 p.m. BigDoor had this message posted on its home page: "We’re
still experiencing issues due to the current AWS outage. Our publisher account
site and API are recovering now, but apparently AWS thinks our corporate site
is too awesome for you to see right now." (On the plus side for visitors,
BigDoor had a YouTube video of a Honey Badger that was roughly equal parts
profane, visually disturbing and funny.)
Keith Smith, CEO of BigDoor, wrote
on GeekWire, "Starting at 1:41
a.m. PST, Amazon’s updates read as if they were written by their attorneys
and accountants who were hedging against their stated SLA rather than being
written by a tech guy trying to help another tech guy. We aren’t just
sitting around waiting for systems to recover. We are actively moving instances
to areas within the AWS cloud that are actually functioning. If Amazon had
been more forthcoming with what they are experiencing, we would have been able
to restore our systems sooner."
Amazon’s issues raise questions about the
ability of cloud computing services to meet the needs of organizations both
large and small. While there is much to recommend cloud services, the AWS outage
highlights vulnerabilities, as well.
Vanessa Alvarez, an analyst at Forrester
Research, told Bloomberg, "Customers
need to start asking tough questions and not assume everything will be taken
care of in the cloud, because it will not. They shouldn’t be counting
on a cloud service provider like Amazon to provide disaster recovery."
Hussey, chief executive of the search company PeekYou, told Dow
Jones Newswires that the company uses 12 Amazon servers but does not have
applications that are "mission critical" on the cloud.
"The interesting thing about this outage is it took down massive sites,
but we’ve been seeing problems all year long at this East Coast facility," Mr.
William Marler, a lawyer for the law firm Marler Clark, told Dow Jones, "It
is simply amazing how dependent we have all become on the web — that we do
Matthew McKenzie on AllBusiness.com wrote, "Even
a minor outage riles up the usual bunch of cloud-hating suspects. A major outage
like this one whips them into a mouth-foaming, rug-chewing frenzy. They think
this proves that cloud computing is unreliable and dangerous. As usual, they’re
wrong. … Life will go on, and cloud computing will still be the safest and
most efficient option, by far, for the vast majority of the businesses that
- Amazon Web Services Disruption Knocks Customers’ Sites Offline Across
U.S. – Bloomberg News
- Amazon.com’s real problem isn’t the outage, it’s the communication
- Amazon Cloud Service Suffers Errors, Hurting Websites – Dow Jones Newswires/The
Wall Street Journal
- Amazon’s Cloud Goes Dark & the Cloud-Haters Go Nuts – AllBusiness TechWatch
- Amazon And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – AllThingsD
- The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger (original narration by Randall) – YouTube
Discussion Questions: Will the Amazon Web Services outage cause companies to rethink using cloud computing services? What are the best uses of cloud services for companies in the retailing business?