AWS down again? Nobody seems to care

Summary:No, AWS didn't break again today. But reliability just doesn't seem to matter.

There was a time when businesses were afraid to use cloud services. After all, they would have little control over problems with the service, and if it went down, so did their business. And while that could still be the majority opinion, many large enterprise web-based businesses have bet the farm on cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services. So you think that the repeated failure of that service would cause some consternation. Apparently that’s not the case.

When Azure has problems it affects Microsoft users; it might impact Office 365 or another of Microsoft’s service offerings. And the knives quickly come out with the Internet ablaze with messages belittling Microsoft’s efforts.  But when AWS fails it seems to have become another story; even the media coverage has been minimized.  When their failure actually took down in the US for half an hour in the middle of a business day recently, that drew some attention. But when yet another failure of Elastic Block Storage (EBS) at the Amazon US East datacenter took out  a number of high-profile business for an hour last Sunday, it seems to have just been business as usual.

Amazon continues to say they will fix this problem, but it has cropped up repeatedly, yet their customers remain. Our own Zack Whitaker mentioned this in his coverage of the Sunday outage event last Monday . But even he had a somewhat dismissive tone, wondering why customers continued to use the specific datacenter that has the problems, but not why they continue to use AWS when Amazon has clearly been unable to fix a recurring problem with this datacenter. The latest problem started at 12:50 in the afternoon, but Amazon was unable to provide full details on what was happening until over two and a half hours later.

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When an Amazon US-East failure took out Netflix last Christmas;, people really seemed to notice that. The outcry when went down last week was much more muted, and last Sunday’s event really seems to have been barely a blip on most people’s radar.

Despite the consistent pattern of failure with AWS and US-East, customers don’t seem to care. Consumers are seem to becoming acclimated to the semi-regular failures, developing an “It’s down, I’ll get back to it later” attitude during these outages. But that isn’t a good thing.

Cloud services, whether for business or personal use, need to have bulletproof reliability. There are too many links in the chain between the end-user devices and the service backend to guarantee any given consumer will be able to access any service at any given point in time, but the back-end should be the most reliable piece of the puzzle and not where we come to expect failure.

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Topics: Amazon, Cloud, Data Centers


With more than 20 years of published writings about technology, as well as industry stints as everything from a database developer to CTO, David Chernicoff has earned the term "veteran" in the technology world. Currently the principal of an independent consulting business and an active freelance writer, David has most recently been a Seni... Full Bio

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