Amazon and the Unexpected

June 11, 2009

I opened my new Kindle Two after my Kindle One disappeared from my briefcase during a talk at the Gilbane Conference on June 4, 2009. I was disappointed that the display wasn’t much of an improvement. The addled goose’s eyes are not what they used to be. I wondered in the God of Geese would come to my aid. When I read Rich Miller’s “Lightning Strike Triggers Amazon EC2 Outage” here, I quacked, “Whoops.” Maybe the God of Geese was paying attention to my Kindle Two injunction. Mr. Miller wrote:

Some customers of Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing service were offline for more than four hours Wednesday night after an electrical storm damaged power equipment at one of the company’s data centers.

Mr. Miller did not raise these questions:

  • What is the reliability of cloud computing in general if lightning, hardly an unexpected weather event, can kill a major data center?
  • Who pays for the loss of revenue to customers when a vendor’s engineering is not able to handle something than Ben Franklin was able to manage?
  • What steps will cloud vendors take to prevent their “enterprise ready” systems from running to the cellar when a storm passes through?

If a cloud system is delivering search and text analysis for a mission critical application, won’t the customers start thinking about the benefits of on premises installations. Losing a service for a photo archive is one thing. Losing a system related to more significant business operations seems to be different to me.

Stephen Arnold, June 11, 2009


One Response to “Amazon and the Unexpected”

  1. Ismael Juma on June 13th, 2009 4:08 am


    A mission critical application should have instances running in multiple availability zones. That would ensure that events like this would not cause issues.


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