The Stormy Outage: Criticism Pouring On The Amazon Cloud

The Stormy Outage: Criticism Pouring On The Amazon Cloud

Last Friday night proved very gloomy for Amazon’s Cloud Service. It all started off with colossal thunderstorms jolting the Amazon US East datacenter and reportedly bringing it down (yet again). On the other hand, alternate cloud computing services within the same geographical location remained intact and continued to operate smoothly.

The incident has raised numerous questions, of which the most serious point out the core architectural foundation of the Amazon Cloud setup. Whether the repetitive cloud service hiccups are an outcome of intrinsic technical flaws that extend beyond the mere wrath of nature remains unanswered. This particular disruption, which happens to be the second experienced this month, resulted in Instagram, Pinterest, Netflix and Heroku being taken down for several hours.

Without the slightest shadow of a doubt, the storm was utterly merciless, leaving more than a million dwellers of Washington D.C. startled and deprived of electrical power for a significantly disturbing time. Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud was severely hit by the same power outage, which had a lasting impact.

Surprisingly, Amazon’s cloud hosting competitor Joyent experienced absolutely no outage during the same time frame. This is where things get dubious – Amazon Cloud, with its soaring claims pertinent to network accessibility and architectural redundancy, should have been resilient to natural hazards just like other service providers.

The disruption served as an opportunity for rivals to chip in with their share of criticism. Steve Zivanic, Vice President of the marketing division for Nirvanix Cloud Storage, advised that customers should rightly stop sticking to the Amazon Cloud by default. “It is becoming rather clear that the answer for (Amazon’s) customers is not to try to master the AWS cloud and learn how to leverage multiple availability zones in an attempt to avoid the next outage but rather to look into a multi-vendor cloud strategy to ensure continuous business operations,” rattled Steve.

A spokeswoman at Amazon explained that the disastrous storm lead Amazon to a trembling loss of not only its primary power source, but also of the crucial backup generator for its customer district located in the east. Service restoration was also reiterated. Amazon is expected to share further details on the incident in the days to come.

It is a bitter reality that even cloud giants such as Amazon are not one hundred percent outage-proof; courtesy of them inherently being a datacenter-reliant business. The outage should serve as a lesson for ventures that are yet to adopt a multi-cloud strategy in their operational dynamics. It seems Heroku has been the most avid of learners, and is reported to be “evaluating its options for actively seeking other cloud platform partners.”

By Humayun Shahid


With degrees in Communication Systems Engineering and Signal Processing, Humayun currently works as a lecturer at Pakistan's leading engineering university. The author has an inclination towards incorporating quality user experience design in smartphone and web applications.

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