What The Recent AWS Outage Taught Us

Amazon Web Services (AWS) experienced some technical issues this past Sunday. As a result, some major sites such as Netflix, Reddit, and IMDB were unavailable for a few hours Sunday morning. Some tech publications have been quick to criticize the cloud and the enterprise shift towards cloud computing. Others have been a little more reserved in their reactions. Forbes Magazine for example, ran a great piece aptly titled AWS Outage Doesn’t Change Anything. We agree. The AWS outage doesn’t mean businesses are going to stop moving to cloud computing. We also should mention that Amazon isn’t the only major cloud provider who has experienced outages; Azure, Office 365, and even Gmail have had their fair share of hiccups.

What the AWS outage does teach us is that when it comes to technology, there is no such thing as a 100% guarantee.

Technology Will Have Its Hiccups

Before the days of the cloud, businesses relied on hardware in-house for everything. Smart businesses planned their infrastructures knowing that at any time a server, a network switch, or a workstation could inexplicably shut down or fail completely. Knowing this, they had backup plans in place to make sure business didn’t stop in case a piece (or group) of hardware malfunctioned. We’ll admit that the cloud offers some fantastic backup options, including multiple availability zones and replication abilities that cost pennies on the dollar compared to in-house backup hardware. But again, as with most things in life - nothing can ever be guaranteed 100%.

The AWS outage of this past weekend doesn’t mean we need to abandon the cloud. Cloud computing is here to stay, and is only going to get bigger as adoption increases over the next few years. What it does mean is that we need to remember that on average, cloud providers offer a 99.9% uptime guarantee in their service level agreements. So regardless of how confident we are in the cloud platform we’re using, we still need to plan for that other .1%. Additionally, the cloud is possible because of the internet. This means that an outage can occur that has nothing to do with the cloud provider. If an ISP experiences issues, access to the cloud may be compromised. This is yet another reason to have a backup plan.

Have a Backup Plan

Your business needs to have alternatives in place should their ever be a disruption in cloud service. Some companies implement hybrid cloud environments that keep some items on physical hardware in-house while moving other items to the cloud. Other companies will enlist the services of a cloud backup provider. Just because the cloud has built in data replication and back-up capabilities doesn’t mean that businesses shouldn’t have a “Plan B” in their back pockets.

The Bottom Line

AWS is one of the leading cloud platforms on the market today, and millions of companies enjoy the scalability, flexibility, and cost efficiency of running portions or all of their IT business operations in the cloud. The moral of the story here is that nobody is perfect, and this includes cloud service providers. Having backups in place will help keep business going, should the cloud have a hiccup or two.

About the Author

Nick Underwood

Nick Underwood has over 15 years of experience supporting IT infrastructures for businesses across a broad range of industries.


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