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How long will big-name customers like Netflix put up with Amazon cloud outages?

Brandon Butler | Jan. 4, 2013
On Christmas Eve as Netflix customers cuddled up to watch their favorite holiday movies and TV shows with friends and family, many experienced a problem. Netflix was down.

Amazon customers are certainly already taking notice. Jeremy Jongsma is director of product development at Barchart, a provider of stock market trading information, and an Amazon cloud customer. Barchart wasn't hit by the most recent outage, but his company did experience some disruptions from an outage earlier this year. That led to him spreading his company's application across two Availability Zones instead of just one, as AWS recommends customers do. The Christmas Eve outage is one of the more concerning ones Jongsma says though, because it sounds like it could have been wholly preventable. "The root cause of human error is the most worrying," he says.

Krishnan Subramanian, an analyst at boutique firm Rishidot Research, says he doesn't believe continued outages will erode confidence in AWS and the public cloud, instead he sees it as an educational moment for customers to explore better cloud resiliency methods, such as spreading workloads across clouds from multiple providers. "Clearly, AWS has a problem to fix but I would also expect the cloud users like Netflix to learn from the past experience and not keep all eggs in the same basket," with a single provider, he says.

Others believe that outages are just a fact of life in IT, and especially the cloud. David Linthicum, CTO of cloud consultancy Blue Mountain Labs, points out that public cloud providers, like AWS, likely have much more resilient systems compared to in-house IT shops. The key is preparing for the outages. "I'm sure there will be many more outages this year, and next year. You just need to build those types of events into your cloud service usage and operations planning. I just don't see the point of 'handwringing' over each of these outages."


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