Not-So-Up Times: Amazon Web Services Outages Serve as a Cautionary Tale About Transparency
It seems that even the mighty – or more specifically, the Amazonian – will fall. When Amazon Web Services (AWS) suffered a massive four-hour-long outage earlier this week, it wreaked havoc with not only hundreds of thousands of websites across the United States but also customer confidence.
AWS has since repaired the issues with its S3 service (due to, believe it or not, a single typo in a server command) – which affected users of major sites such as Netflix, IMDb, Reddit, Tinder, Airbnb, Expedia, Slack and Spotify – but the effects remain, especially as they evoke reminders of similar AWS outages in the not-so-distant past.
Déjà Vu All Over Again
Indeed, one only has to think back to 2011, 2013 and 2015, when AWS experienced similar outages, in which services such as Instagram, Airbnb and Netflix went down for hours. As companies know all too well, because many of their mission-critical workloads exist in cloud environments, these episodes of downtime – no matter how long – can prove downright devastating.
Perhaps even more dishearteningly, AWS is not the only giant in the cloud space experiencing outage woes. Big-name players such as Verizon, Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, Symantec Cloud and Google Cloud Platform all seem to be vying for the inauspicious title of being the most responsible for the biggest cloud outages and IT interruptions over the past 15 months. A brief recap:
Verizon, January 2016. A data center power outage directly impacted JetBlue Airways.
Microsoft Office 365, January and February 2016. Buggy software in January and heavy traffic in February caused multiple email disruptions.
Salesforce, March and May 2016. In March, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) disruption in Europe lasted for 10 hours (performance issues lasted days longer). A 10-hour-long widespread outage in North America followed in May.
Symantec Cloud, April 2016. When a security portal went down for 24 hours, clients were unable to administer email and web security services.
Google Cloud Platform, April 2016. Google Platform services went black for 18 minutes, which impacted Compute Engine instances and VPN services.
Apple , March 2017. Just this week, Apple fell prey to its first major iTunes hack, when the iTunes App Store in China was infected by malware.
The Good News: Cloud Nine Just May be Achievable After all
So, what’s the takeaway here? Is it that even the big guys – with their costly commitment fees – sometimes fail and that users should learn to accept that fact? Not quite. Cautious customers should know that – when it comes to business continuity – burying one’s head in the proverbial quicksand has only one ending. (Spoiler: It’s not a pretty one.)
Meanwhile, confident companies know that the power players aren’t always the best at what they do. They also know that transparency is key, if only because it was lacking when they needed it most. Perhaps if Amazon had been more forthcoming with information during this most recent outage, then many companies may have been able to restore their systems sooner.
That’s where the champions come in – the providers who will champion your company, that is. Cloud service providers such as dinCloud are committed to transparency and a history of a solid uptime. The AWS scare represents a wake-up call for companies to take a second look at those cloud service providers that – in an industry awash with corporate giants – stand just a bit taller when it comes to transparency and uptime.
Kim Kay is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who specializes in technology and possesses more than 20 years of experience in B2B and consumer publishing. A noted writer and editor across a myriad of mediums in both in the U.S. and overseas, she has also served as the Editor-in-Chief of Computer Technology Review for more than a decade. Follow her on Twitter @kimberlygkay and like her on Facebook at Ink Spot Publishing.