On April 21st 2011 Amazon's AWS experienced a lot of downtime, upwards
of 9 hours for one region. Several companies who rely on Amazon for
their cloud services experienced downtime, and even more companies who
rely on those companies were out as well. Engine Yard, Foursquare,
Hootsuite, Heroku, Quora, and Reddit, all of these had issues or were
simply out. Heroku and rstat.us for example were both completely off line.
"The Cloud" has been trending lately. By and large it's an awesome
thing. "It" makes some people fortunes, while saving others..
fortunes. Of course, "The Cloud" is not so ubiquitous and infallible as
we've come to believe. As more and more people became aware of "The
Cloud" (which is still "The Internet"), more and more people fell to
believing the Fallacies of Distributed Computing.
I believe I first came across this concept when reading Joel on
Software. Essentially, as the internet becomes further entrenched
in our lives, we begin to assume it's just always there. We begin
treating remote resources as local resources. Except they're not.
It's unfortunate that these services had such downtime. I've used many
of them and have always had good experiences. But computers, networks,
servers, and "clouds" are still made by humans. They're still fallible.
On a positive note, the industry as a whole has been far more agile in
recent years; things like this will only spark better fail-overs, in
policy and systems, and probably very quickly. Just imagine if the
federal government had a failure like this. It would takes weeks to
sort it out, and likely such a fuss would be made in the media that
policy and politics would take the stage over whether or not it even got
fixed. Six months would pass before a new strategy would be approved,
and then another 6 before it was in place.
I had a chance to meet some of the bright minds at Engine Yard. I
have a good feeling that they've already got a new plan on the drawing
board, and wouldn't be surprised if some of it's already in motion.
There's good news though, The Cloud isn't all bad, if used cautiously: