After Amazon’s Stumble Anti-Cloud Rhetoric Is Expected, But Is It Warranted?
I like Phil Wainewright of ZDNet’s take on the Amazon incident last week. I like it partially because his post-chaos “seven lessons to learn from Amazon’s outage” reads oddly similar to my recent Transparency in the Cloud series. Mostly, though, I appreciate Phil’s approach because all of his lessons are targeted at the cloud services consumer.
Without a doubt, the blame for last week’s outage falls squarely on Amazon’s shoulders, but the responsibility to understand risk and adjust appropriately is in the hands of those that choose to use cloud-based services either to consume services, or to provide services to other companies.
One thing about centralizing services in the cloud is that it makes everything extremely visible. What was traditionally hidden behind private firewalls is now out in the open for everyone to see. I have a hunch that the aggregate downtime and subsequent hours spent by private IT departments on a regular basis far exceeds even the four days it took Amazon to clean up after this incident.
Which brings me to my point: There are two things that cost money during outages – 1) lost business, and 2) resolution efforts.
Lost business is a sunk cost, whether the outage is with your website hosting company, your cloud services provider, or inside your own private datacenter. The mere fact that you are in an outage situation means you are losing business. The difference is that in a private outage situation, you are also compounding the loss by shelling out the dollars to fix the problem. In this case, it was Amazon’s software (and/or hardware) that failed, let them foot the cleanup bill (and they happily will)!
Regarding the anti-cloud sentiment that seems to be pouring from mainstream outlets, I’ll borrow from CNN’s sensationalistic metaphor. Did we stop building ocean liners after the Titanic sank? Did everybody start crossing the Atlantic in tiny dinghies because they didn’t trust larger ships?
Smart people who specialized in the things that went wrong with the Titanic figured out how to make those things better and prevent disaster from happening again. Given that we all know there’s inherent value in cloud services, instead of throwing around anti-cloud sentiment, let’s all focus our energy on helping cloud providers like Amazon get better at it. We can do that by learning and applying our own lessons, and contributing our own technologies and talents.