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EC2 Outage Shows How Much the Net Relies On Amazon

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the too-big-to-fail dept.

Cloud 147

An anonymous reader writes "Much has been written about the recent EC2/EBS outage, but Keir Thomas at PC World has a different take: it's shown how much cutting-edge Internet infrastructure relies on Amazon, and we should be grateful. Quoting: 'Amazon is a personification of the spirit of the Internet, which is one of true democracy, access to the means of distribution, and rapid evolution.'" An article at O'Reilly comes to a similarly positive conclusion from a different angle.

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It also shows... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916122)

why putting everything "in the cloud" is a stupid idea.

Why The Cloud? (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916206)

Why is so much in the cloud? I've heard it touted in lots of marketing speak, but I've never worked with it.

As someone who has never worked with the cloud (shocking, I know), what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Is it basically just distributed scalable redundant web hosting run by a big company? So you're basically renting to avoid the start-up capital costs of those services and to put them in the hands of specialists, while you focus on your web apps?

Or is it more?

Re:Why The Cloud? (1)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916272)

It scales really well and can be significantly cheaper than buying your own servers which you won't be using all the time anyway. They are also extremely hard to go down, as seen on these huge amounts of reporting they get if they happen to go for a bit.

I really don't get the slashdots hate against cloud providers, but I guess it's mostly just people who haven't even used such or worked with them and compared them to other solutions. The same old elitist "this new shit is useless, I like my old ways thank you very much. And now get off my lawn".

Re:Why The Cloud? (4, Informative)

tragedy (27079) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916512)

Hmm, considering how long "the cloud" has been a buzzword, doesn't it seem like an awful lot of unscheduled downtime if there have been enough events already for people to be claiming that they aren't given a fair shake by the media when they go down. After all, if the media have reported on it several times, it's happened several times. That's more unscheduled downtime than your typical web server gets in a few years.

Perhaps if they hadn't gone with a word that means fuzzy, insubstantial and ephemeral to describe their services people wouldn't have the same reservations about it. Maybe it's also because IT people don't like their managers to say "I just heard about this neat new thing, let's abandon the system we have now to pursue this" against their advice, then have to deal with being screamed at by their managers later when everything is down and there's absolutely nothing they can do about it because they've effectively ceded all control to a third party service provider who has not managed, thus far, to establish themselves as particularly safe or reliable.

The apologists whose articles are linked in this Slashdot story seem to think it's great that we're putting all of our eggs into the baskets of known basket droppers. Thus far I'm not impressed enough by these providers. Obviously, in order to do anything on the Internet, you have to rely on some sort of service provider, and even they have to rely on their peers. So obviously there's no way you can have total control. Nevertheless, you should still try to retain all the control you can over your own stuff.

Re:Why The Cloud? (2)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916574)

People are unfairly giving cloud hosting here bad name anyway - EC2 doesn't handle distributing your services in that way and it's directly noted.. You have to make sure you have backup locations set up in EC2. It costs more, but it's for situations like this. That is why Netflix didn't have any problems even while they were using EC2.

If you're being stupid and taking shortcuts thinking you won't need that, well, it's your choice. You would do it with any kind of service anyway.

Re:Why The Cloud? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916876)

The cloud is just that a buzzword. There technologies and idea behind the cloud are much older. It's prone to mistakes just like anything else. If anything this Amazon outage shows that people aren't using 'the cloud' properly and distributing their data across multiple data centres.

Re:Why The Cloud? (1)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916542)

[...] I really don't get the slashdots hate against cloud providers, but I guess it's mostly just people who haven't even used such or worked with them and compared them to other solutions. [...]

The Cloud is like Flash, JavaScript and many other technologies: It has its uses, but too many people mistake or abuse it for something that it is not. Too much stuff is put into "the Cloud" just so it is there, often at the expense of stability, usefulness and data protection. It has become one of those buzzwords non-technical management loves to slap on their company's website to appear modern, akin to the stupid $genericproduct 2.0 before it, and the $genericproduct 2000 before that, and the $genericproduct Professional Enterprise Doubleplus Deluxe before that. "Cloud" is the new "web-based". Or the new "with virtualisation". An interesting solution to many products, but not the Swiss Army silver bullet some companies are selling it for.

Re:Why The Cloud? (1)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916556)

That last sentence should, of course, have read "An interesting solution to many problems [...]".

Slightly more... but yeah (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916306)

I guess that the major difference to traditional outsourced hosting is what you mentioned but didn't emphasis... The "scalable" part. If you normally spend X amount of resources (CPU time, memory, whatever) and might get a peak of 50X resources at some point, traditionally you would either constantly pay for a lot of resources that you didn't need for most of the time, or your service would crash during the peak. Cloud offers a lot more flexibility as you can pay based on what you use, not based on what you estimate you might need. Pretty useful for some things, though certainly overhyped (and because of the hype, some have reacted with the "It's useless!" attitude, which is just as wrong).

Disadvantages are pretty obvious: Your data is at the hands of a third party.

Re:Why The Cloud? (1)

black6host (469985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916318)

I'll give you an example of what some may consider "cloud computing". Say you purchase a franchise. The franchiser, as part of the deal, requires that you use their software for all accounting, dispatching techs, if applicable, reporting, maintaining your customer list etc. A few of my clients have been in this scenario. Here are the drawbacks:

1. Obvious case, servers not available. In a service industry, such as air conditioning companies etc, this mean you don't even know where your techs are supposed to be.

2. Servers are up but your internet service is down. Same scenario as above.

3. Worst case of all is what happens if there is a disagreement between the franchiser and the franchisee? Well guess what, they have all your data and that gives them the upper hand. Pay up first, ask questions later kind of deal. And once they have your money there is much less incentive to be fair about things.

These are real world scenarios and my advice to my clients (and these were already established businesses who were considering a franchise as a way to increases revenues) that they refuse unless they could run the franchiser required software in-house. I'll also state that these ventures weren't a McDonald's type of operation, the franchisers were relatively small themselves.

In summary, it depends on the application (haven't heard that one before have you? :) _)

The franchises promote the fact that there are few support and infrastructure requirements at the client site, which is true, but they neglect to mention the other aspects. Who wants someone else to completely control your companies data? I realize that this is just a segment of "cloud computing" in general but it's being sold to businesses every day.

Re:Why The Cloud? (4, Insightful)

mini me (132455) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916342)

The cloud represents a black box that abstracts the underlying network topology.

You might send your data to a server in Germany and retrieve it from a server in the USA. When you put something in the cloud you do not have to worry about problems like this because the cloud provider already has a hot backup ready to take the slack in another part of the world. You don't need to know or care how it happens, it just works. S3 is an Amazon example of a cloud service. You send your file to S3 and Amazon takes the responsibility of ensuring that it is available even if a datacenter is blown to smithereens.

EC2 and EBS are not the cloud. There is no abstraction of the datacenter. Amazon leaves it up to you to choose which datacenter you wish to work in. This can allow you to easily build a cloud application on top of their physical infrastructure, but it is up to you to make it "the cloud". We witnessed so many failures because the applications were not cloud applications, just standard hosted services.

Re:Why The Cloud? (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916548)

Is it basically just distributed scalable redundant web hosting run by a big company? So you're basically renting to avoid the start-up capital costs of those services and to put them in the hands of specialists, while you focus on your web apps?

More or less. You can rent all kinds of stuff these days. But the idea remains the same: put the stuff that isn't your core competency into the hands of somebody who has that as their core competency, and focus on what you do best. It's basically the theory of comparative advantage put to a real world challenge, and it's working. Yes, occasionally things like an EC2 outage happen. But you don't hear the millions of times a corporate server failed and took down their own apps.

What it boils down to is trust: do you trust the other company to do a better job than you at running infrastructure and hosting services? And if you think you're better, do you think that the time and money you spend running and hosting stuff would be put to better use creating or selling your widget? If you answer yes to either question, you're better off hosting stuff in the cloud.

Re:Why The Cloud? (4, Informative)

emt377 (610337) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916934)

Why is so much in the cloud? I've heard it touted in lots of marketing speak, but I've never worked with it.

As someone who has never worked with the cloud (shocking, I know), what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Is it basically just distributed scalable redundant web hosting run by a big company? So you're basically renting to avoid the start-up capital costs of those services and to put them in the hands of specialists, while you focus on your web apps?

Or is it more?

There's a big mix-up of lots of different concepts and ideas here, to the point that the questions you ask are impossible to answer.

- EC2 is a vps-like virtual server provisioning service. You rent a virtual server instance by the hour. APIs exist for you to dynamically add and remove instances as needed. You create an image, then can fire up additional instances as you see fit. Someone like Netflix for instance, can fire up streaming servers during peak hours then shut them down at off hours.
- You can of course set up your own co-lo systems, but it will be provisioned 24/7 and will cost you more since it will be sized for peak capacity, and even during peak most of the servers will be idle much of the time due to random load variance. You can improve peak utilization by setting up your own virtual provisioning. But then you have ops costs, so unless you have a massive operational scale you'll find it cheaper to buy from AWS (or linode, rackspace, etc).
- EBS is a logical volume service. You create a volume and mount it on an EC2 instance. Like with server instances, there are API calls to dynamically create EBS volumes. You can unmount it and move it to a different server in the same datacenter, so you could use them for instance to take backup snapshots or log analysis, or similar, in addition to simply being server storage. Of course you get to build or buy the software to do all these things yourself.
- Server instances belong to groups, and have access controls set up among them. This allows you to create private 'backplane' interconnects, where some things like sql servers are only accessible to instances part of a group.
- EIPs are elastic IPs, which are IPs you lease and can then assign to any of your server instances (usually ingress and point-of-contact servers). You can move them between virtual servers as you like, and obviously would typically map DNS to them. Servers will otherwise get anonymous IP addresses, meaning they get something arbitrarily assigned. They're reachable (if you wish) from the net at large, but aren't well-known points for your service.
- AWS also provides a load distribution service. I've never used this actually; it never seemed to fit right.
- S3 is a cloud service, meaning it has no deterministic ingress and egress. It's used for content distribution: writing is expensive, reading is dirt cheap. Content stored is automatically replicated and de-replicated as needed. You have no idea where it lives, in how many copies, and how it's backed up. SLAs make promises about availability.
- Content distribution is a poster child cloud service example. Not all services will easily fit a cloud model. Many other services that have fit the model (mainly using mapreduce or like) are batch processing based and more about massaging massive amounts of data than interactive end-user services.
- Somewhat simplified, if your service can fit around a key-value store (even a sophisticated one like MongoDB), then it's a candidate for a cloud architecture.
- There are plenty of providers of bits and pieces to do things like server monitoring, cost analysis, and automated/manual server provisioning. In fact, I'm getting into this business myself...

A 'cloud' service is not a hosting service - it's a way to build things, a black-box mindset. There may be a well-defined point of contact (perhaps found via DNS), but beyond that everything is dynamic. The initial contact can redirect, either explicitly or implicitly. It's not like a 'hosting' service where you click a button and get a Joomla host. But it might be a viable way to implement such a hosting service.

Re:It also shows... (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916338)

Clouds aren't the problem. It's contracting your cloud out to a third party that's the problem.

Re:It also shows... (2)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917220)

Clouds aren't the problem. It's contracting your cloud out to a third party that's the problem.

Exactly. What I'd like to see is an open cloud platform that makes it easy to distribute nodes between multiple unrelated ISPs instead of all the servers being handled by a single monolithic entity such as Amazon or Google.

Re:It also shows... (3, Insightful)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916536)

Amazon is a personification of the spirit of the Internet, which is one of true democracy, access to the means of distribution, and rapid evolution

Spirit of the internet? Some on seeing Amazons' passing judgement on Wikileaks might think it more aligned with a certain corporate spirit than a spirit of the internet. If they're really support democracy, which can't function properly with a poorly informed public, maybe they shouldn't be the ones to decide whether or not someone is a journalist.

Hardware doesn't make spirit. What people are doing, and the thoughts that drive the choices made probably do.

They are still contented to profit from the sale of books about WikiLeaks.

http://www.amazon.com/Inside-WikiLeaks-Assange-Dangerous-Website/dp/030795191X [amazon.com]

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/dec/11/wikileaks-amazon-denial-democracy-lieberman [guardian.co.uk]

Re:It also shows... (5, Insightful)

nothings (597917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917184)

Don't forget the one-click patent. True democracy/spirit of the Internet my ass.

Re:It also shows... (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916852)

Seeing how the internet is the cloud where else do you expect internet sites to go?

Re:It also shows... (2)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917704)

Seeing how the internet is the cloud where else do you expect internet sites to go?

No, if you throw a packet into the "cloud" known as the Internet, it usually comes out where you wanted it to go, and you don't need to know the path it took to get there. "Cloud computing" is an entirely different concept (or, rather, a set of somewhat related concepts that mean different things to different people.) The Internet just schleps data from here to there.

My cloud is fine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916126)

All my websites are fine, which is what my high profile clients expect.

That's because we use Microsoft Windows Servers and Sql Databases. Amazon can't take us down.

I can't imagine why someone would outsource or cloudsource stuff that is this mission critical.

Hey you - get off of my cloud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916144)

>I can't imagine why someone would outsource or cloudsource stuff that is this mission critical.

The short term advantage of downsizing the internal IT department is a big part of it.

Also - it's buzzword compliant.

Re:My cloud is fine (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916284)

Because for most companies, a cloud provider can provide better uptime than they can manage by themselves.

All my websites are fine, which is what my high profile clients expect.

I can't imagine why someone would outsource or cloudsource stuff that is this mission critical.

The same company that relies on a single resource zone at EC2 is the same kind of company that will host all of their servers at a single coloc, or worse, host them on-site with a single internet connection and have no backup generator.

Anyone that uses Amazon EC2 to host servers and doesn't have backup servers in a difference availability zone (and region) get what they paid for -- a single point of failure. Any datacenter or coloc is subject to failure no matter how much redundancy is built in to the design - tornadoes, flooding, fire, equipment failure, accidents and other forces can take down an entire datacenter.

That's because we use Microsoft Windows Servers and Sql Databases. Amazon can't take us down.

It's not clear why your choice of a MS platform ensures uptime. Why does having Microsoft Windows Servers and Sql Databases keep Amazon from taking you down? You could host those Windows servers on an Amazon EC2 instance. Or does MS SQL/Server have some anti-amazon-takedown feature that keeps it running even if it's on Amazon's infrastructure and that infrastructure goes down?

Re:My cloud is fine (3, Funny)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916880)

Of course. The botnet authors have a vested interest in keeping your system up.

Re:My cloud is fine (3, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917032)

All my websites are fine, which is what my high profile clients expect.

That's because we use Microsoft Windows Servers and Sql Databases.

Really? I've found both such products to be unsuitable for the demand we put on such infrastructures - unless I throw a lot more hardware at them. With 1/20th the traffic, and 6% the userbase, our forums crawled on Windows Server and MSSQL Server. We switched to Apache and MySQL, and even running the greatly more database intensive (than the Windows solution we were provided) Simple Machines Forum, we need a lot less hardware than we previously did when we had so much less traffic.

Multiple Locations (2, Informative)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916132)

Amazon has an option to have another Amazon location serve as the failover for your services. Yes, it costs more, but it does exactly what it's supposed to when this type of thing happens. If your backup/disaster recover plan requires as close to 100% uptime as possible you'll want to pay the extra for this type of protection.

Except they didn't work. (4, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916188)

A large number of people that are experiencing this outage, did pay for multiple availability zones, and it didn't help them [networkworld.com] .

Re:Except they didn't work. (5, Informative)

el_tedward (1612093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916340)

I guess what we should learn from this is to put your failover in separate regions, not separate availability zones?

Re:Except they didn't work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916380)

I would mod you up if I had mod points, as this is crucial.

Re:Except they didn't work. (1)

Slutticus (1237534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916436)

It looks like Amazon already defines the "availability zones" as areas that should be redundant (and thus not prone to being affected by other zones going down). Do they even have the capability to spread someone out across different regions?

Re:Except they didn't work. (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916604)

Do they even have the capability to spread someone out across different regions?

Yes you have full control over what region your instance runs in - some regions cost more than others, the East region is cheaper than the West region.

Re:Except they didn't work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916614)

Amazon doesn't load-balance across regions, so building a unified service that crosses regions is exceedingly difficult. You also have to pay for all the bandwidth used to replicate across regions.

dom

Re:Except they didn't work. (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917422)

Life isn't easy. Non-cloud server backups also aren't easy to do but you'd be called an utter fool for not doing so.

If you're so lazy or incompetent that you can't do what can't be done in a nice pretty GUI with three clicks then you shouldn't be in charge of servers. Cloud or otherwise.

Re:Except they didn't work. (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917570)

I guess what we should learn from this is to put your failover in separate regions, not separate availability zones?

Apparently, data transfer between AZs is cheap or free, while transferring data between regions is effectively transmitting them over the open internet, and counts towards your bandwidth allotment/cost, so it's sometimes prohibitively expensive to failover across regions... it would almost be less expensive to just failover to another hosting provider (which may be even more stable than sticking with Amazon).

This outage was a big black-eye for Amazon, as their recommended way to failover was used, and promptly failed for large sites, employing very smart people.

Re:Except they didn't work. (5, Informative)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916366)

From the NYT article: [nytimes.com]

Big companies, that have decided to put crucial operations on Amazon computers are apt to pay up for the equivalent of computing insurance, analysts say. Netflix, the movie rental site, has become a large customer of the Amazon cloud. Most of its Web technology — customer movie queues, search tools and the like — runs in Amazon data centers.

Netflix said it had sailed through the last couple of days unscathed. “That’s because Netflix has taken full advantage of Amazon Web Services’ redundant cloud architecture,” which insures against technical malfunctions in any one location, said Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman.

Sounds like it worked for some.

Re:Except they didn't work. (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916416)

It worked just fine I was in the effected zone and just failed over to the west coast region. I actually could have stayed on east coast as our infrastructure does not have single points of failure.

Re:Except they didn't work. (4, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916426)

Paying for multiple availability zones is not the same as paying for multiple locations. There are multiple availability zones in a single datacenter. Netflix got it right, they spread their infrastructure over multiple physical locations, and didn't suffer any downtime despite losing a significant chunk of their infrastructure; it was business as usual.

Like anything else, cloud computing still requires you to decide how much redundancy you're willing to pay for. If uptime is that important to you, spreading your infrastructure out over multiple datacenters is a no-brainer.

Re:Except they didn't work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916476)

Compare what they're paying to having your own machine room, leased lines, fall over redundancy, back-up comms, UPSes and generators etc etc. Now come back and moan. Oh, you can't, can you. Funny how numbers make one change their view.

Re:Multiple Locations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35917310)

You want me to pay Company X extra money so that if Company X fucks up, their fuck up won't take my operation out? Sounds very similar to a billing scheme developed by the mafia.

Clouds: Up in the air and foggy: (5, Insightful)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916148)

This article seems to be an apology for Amazon.

Basicly it says "We went down, and took down lots of important stuff. That shows just how important we are and that lots of people use us. Thus, our cloud is a good thing."

The logic of that doesn't quite work.

I agree that it's a useful tool, but there are a lot of things that don't make sense to put in the cloud.

Re:Clouds: Up in the air and foggy: (3, Informative)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916180)

I agree that it's a useful tool, but there are a lot of things that don't make sense to put in the cloud.

I always feel better when anything that is mission critical is in-house. Cloud based (and regular internet based) services can become inaccessible for your business if you simply lose your internet connection - it doesn't require all of Amazon to bite the dust.

Re:Clouds: Up in the air and foggy: (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916374)

I always feel better when anything that is mission critical is in-house. Cloud based (and regular internet based) services can become inaccessible for your business if you simply lose your internet connection - it doesn't require all of Amazon to bite the dust.

But if having your application available to the outside world is mission-critical to the outside world, you're almost always better off colocating it with providers in multiple physical locations.

Even for internal apps that are necessary for your business, you may be better off outsourcing, since if your building catches on fire, you can send employees home to let them continue working. Few companies have the resources to build a truly redundant hosting infrastructure across multiple regions.

Re:Clouds: Up in the air and foggy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35917370)

Even for internal apps that are necessary for your business, you may be better off outsourcing, since if your building catches on fire, you can send employees home to let them continue working.

What makes the outsourcing company's datacenter less likely to catch fire?

Re:Clouds: Up in the air and foggy: (0)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916300)

So what they are saying in the style of Jeremy Clarkson " Where rubbish give us money "

+1 for interesting (0)

amanicdroid (1822516) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916414)

I never have my mod points when wanted.

Re:Clouds: Up in the air and foggy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916520)

Basicly it says "We went down, and took down lots of important stuff. That shows just how important we are and that lots of people use us. Thus, our cloud is a good thing."

lol @ Reddit being included in "important stuff"

Re:Clouds: Up in the air and foggy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916838)

>but there are a lot of things that don't make sense to put in the cloud.

For holiday snaps of people / places you don't remember, there's the cloud.

For EVERYTHING ELSE, there's a decent backup strategy.

Re:Clouds: Up in the air and foggy: (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917162)

Hmmmm, yer. The whole apology is just not working for me.

Yes, you could architect much easier with cloud platforms to failover in different regions of the world, and Reese is simply plugging his own company's stuff on that one. However, that just makes things more expensive and negates the cost effectiveness of using cloud services in terms of more servers and increased complexity. Will most businesses really need to do that given that they could afford to put their stuff in a single data centre somewhere and when a sever fails simply restore from a backup and not be down for two days?

I just don't get the apologist's view of this at all. If you need and can afford to build that kind of infrastructure then that's great, but for the vast majority of businesses using cloud platforms their applications just don't warrant it.

Re:Clouds: Up in the air and foggy: (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917632)

You're stuck in a non-vm mentality it seems so I'm not sure why you're talking about things you don't understand.

However, that just makes things more expensive and negates the cost effectiveness of using cloud services in terms of more servers and increased complexity.

How so? Why do you need that many more servers, you're either splitting traffic (so roughly the same number of servers) or simply having enough servers to pick up backups. Now data storage of duplicate backups may add some costs but that's neither servers nor complexity.

And as I said before and you seem to not understand, this is a cloud. If you main servers go down you don't need to have an identical copy of those servers running somewhere else 24/7. You simply create those copies on the fly. They cost you nothing until they're needed and when they are you're not paying for your main servers anyway.

Will most businesses really need to do that given that they could afford to put their stuff in a single data centre somewhere and when a sever fails simply restore from a backup and not be down for two days?

You're assuming they can restore from backup, often companies don't want to lose the data since the last backup unless there is no choice. They also need to get a new server, image it, test it and actually put it in the data center. Sure they can automate it all but that, to quote your own words, that negates cost effectiveness.

It's also nothing that you can't do even more easily with amazon. My server was down at amazon for maybe 12 hours, that's when I noticed and simply reloaded it from backup in a different working availability zone. Took a few minutes. Had I cared enough to keep backups in a different region then I could have simply reloaded it instantly over there.

Re:Clouds: Up in the air and foggy: (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917804)

My server was down at amazon for maybe 12 hours, that's when I noticed and simply reloaded it from backup in a different working availability zone. Took a few minutes. Had I cared enough to keep backups in a different region then I could have simply reloaded it instantly over there.

How did you architect the data storage for your applications? Is the data kept with the servers? How much data are you working with?

It seems to me that Amazon is decent for the web tier, or any application with a relatively small data set. Yet the idea of spinning up multiple terabytes of data in an alternate location seems to be too good to be true.

Ehr.. Wikileaks? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916154)

"Quoting: 'Amazon is a personification of the spirit of the Internet, which is one of true democracy, access to the means of distribution, and rapid evolution.'"

Yeah, right.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35917038)

Why is this modded -1?

Forget cloud computing! (2)

stopacop (2042526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916190)

I'll stick to my setup of a dedicated server and virtual private servers across the globe rather than putting all my eggs in one basket with Amazon and "cloud computing"! It may be a little bit more in terms of operating costs, but it has true failover in the event of an outage!

Re:Forget cloud computing! (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916404)

I'll stick to my setup of a dedicated server and virtual private servers across the globe rather than putting all my eggs in one basket with Amazon and "cloud computing"! It may be a little bit more in terms of operating costs, but it has true failover in the event of an outage!

Then your app doesn't really need a dynamic cloud.

Some companies have applications that run on a dozen servers during normal times, and need to scale to over a hundred servers during peak peak periods (i.e. a new product launch). With EC2, they can scale automatically and programatically and can spread the virtual servers across multiple regions for additional redundancy. All with a single API.

Re:Forget cloud computing! (-1, Troll)

stopacop (2042526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916450)

Do you get a commission for making posts like this? ;-)

Re:Forget cloud computing! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916958)

With EC2, they can scale automatically and programatically and can spread the virtual servers across multiple regions for additional redundancy. All with a single API.

That sure as fuck didn't seem to be the case these past few days.

Re:Forget cloud computing! (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917590)

With EC2, they can scale automatically and programatically and can spread the virtual servers across multiple regions for additional redundancy. All with a single API.

That sure as fuck didn't seem to be the case these past few days.

Sure it was - that's why Netflix had no problems, they had instances across more than one region.

Re:Forget cloud computing! (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916626)

And yet it's still more reliable than what you have!

Re:Forget cloud computing! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35917122)

Except it isn't. The OP's sites are still up and working fine, while even many big-name sites (like reddit) are still feeling the impact of this Amazon incident.

Re:Forget cloud computing! (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916932)

I'll stick to my setup of a dedicated server and virtual private servers across the globe rather than putting all my eggs in one basket with Amazon and "cloud computing"!

I hope that was sarcasm and you really are not that stupid.

"Bailout" of the Cloud now! (2)

ninejaguar (517729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916212)

Otherwise, Amazon will become too big to fail.

= 9J =

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916256)

Just... wow.

The amount of bullshit dripping from those statements is as awe-inspiring as the scale and completeness of amazons (now second) massive failure in a service who's main selling point is reliability.

 

Outages (1, Insightful)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916262)

Many .com websites were unnecessarily down for hours since nobody had thought to plan for a outage. I am sure quite a few architecture meetings where held the following day addressing disaster recovery.

Re:Outages (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916502)

So, in other words, this is exactly what people who use cloud services for mission critical data needed. It's exceptionally hard to learn good lessons from success, but failures are almost guaranteed to teach something. In this case, the community will understand the potential cost of a four-to-six-nines system without a backup. There is always a finite chance of failure.

Still, it was only down for , what - a day? Remember Loma Prieta? WTC collapses? Things happen, and when they do everybody is down for a while. Compared to real disasters, that's pretty good.

Re:Outages (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916552)

Many .com websites were unnecessarily down for hours since nobody had thought to plan for a outage. I am sure quite a few architecture meetings where held the following day addressing disaster recovery.

Y'know, call me crazy, but I didn't even notice the outage.

I mean, yeah, I read about it on a number of sites (all still up and runing just fine), but honestly can't say I tried to visit even a single site actually unavailable because of the downtime.

I dunno, perhaps this mostly affected ad hosts and I didn't notice because I already block them?

Re:Outages (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916918)

Y'know, call me crazy, but I didn't even notice the outage.

I noticed it: Pricewatch was down, and I wanted more memory in my laptop.

Re:Outages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35917362)

Many .com websites were unnecessarily down for hours since nobody had thought to plan for a outage. I am sure quite a few architecture meetings where held the following day addressing disaster recovery.

Y'know, call me crazy, but I didn't even notice the outage.

I mean, yeah, I read about it on a number of sites (all still up and runing just fine), but honestly can't say I tried to visit even a single site actually unavailable because of the downtime.

I dunno, perhaps this mostly affected ad hosts and I didn't notice because I already block them?

I noticed it. Reddit was down, and I wanted to make fun of religious people

SPF (1, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916264)

Wait....we should be glad we have a single point of failure on the internet because why?!?

Re:SPF (2)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916332)

Apparently, because having just one party and no elections makes a democracy. And in later news, why Rupert Murdoch tapping everyone's phones is good for privacy.

Re:SPF (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916632)

How exactly is this a single point of failure? It's not like there are magically no other ways to put things on the Internet.

And to address my sibling post - this is the purest, most direct form of democracy there is. You vote by using the service, or using some other service, or nothing at all, or many, many other configurations, some of which haven't even been invented yet.

I'm actually rather amazed at the lack of critical thinking skills. I know it's a popular Slashdot meme to say things are going downhill, and I am well aware of the curious technophobic streak that runs through a lot of the people here... but to what end? Is it just for the sheer joy (if that's the word) of shitting on things?

Amazon was down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916270)

In only knew Amazon was down because I read it here. Didn't run into any site which was down due to Amazon.

Short Memories (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916276)

"which is one of true democracy" - They quickly forgot their take down of WikiLeaks. Part of democracy is free speech to remind the people of the governments failures. Putting all your eggs in one basket never ends well, we should be scared not grateful.

Re:Short Memories (2)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916470)

One group taking down WikiLeaks doesn't really matter when it comes to democracy. Indeed, since choice is a part of democracy, one group is perfectly entitled to censor what they like, since one group is utterly insignificant. Indeed, that is how you identify democracies.

The Internet is not democratic and hasn't been since deregulation. The Internet is a federation of dictatorships. You have no choices. If you live in an area where X runs the backbone, ALL ISPs without exception are mere window-dressing over X. They can't provide anything X doesn't pipe, they can't charge less than X charges them, they can't give you freedoms or rights X doesn't grant you. To claim you can choose another provider is like saying you can choose to buy Fords in different shades of absolute black. If you believe in such illusions and phantoms, I've a Golden Gate bridge you can buy.

All we have here is an extension of that. Amazon has pwned the data centers, so choice has been eliminated. That's not democracy, that's dictatorship that's telling you it's democracy. It's as close to real democracy as Saddam Hussein's elections or the Tea Party.

Re:Short Memories (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917150)

one group is perfectly entitled to censor what they like

They're entitled to, yes, but that doesn't mean that doing so is good for democracy and it certainly doesn't mean we shouldn't scoff and laugh when they're described as "true democracy". Someone needs to be willing to stand up and provide a platform for information that embarrasses the Government; if all the hosting companies and Internet backbone providers and newspapers and publishers and distributors were to refuse to publish it, why, we wouldn't have a democracy anymore at all.

The best way to stop this seems to be to call out companies for their cowardice as it happens, even if they're only one small company amongst many. If it starts seeming like the best option, others will inevitably follow, until you reach the point where it's too late to do anything.

Re:Short Memories (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917646)

I agree with you in that it isn't good for democracy and that such a platform should be provided. The mere fact that one company could have the power to effectively eliminate all such platforms is, however, proof that what we have is most certainly not democracy than that claims that a single entity can ever constitute democracy are highly suspect at best, propoganda at worst. Far from scoffing, I take it as a dangerous sign that the media (who are ethically obliged to provide accurate, honest information) have lost their marbles and that Joe Public has ceased to comprehend what freedom and democracy even mean. The words are over-used and are abused to the point where they have become meaningless noise. Far from laughing, I consider that to be dangerous to the extreme. When words mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean (Lewis Carolls' Humpty Dumpty), with no meaning or substance of their own, abuse becomes inevitable and rational, democratic societies become impossible.

Calling companies out is about all anyone can do, but let's face it. We do NOT meet Plato's requirements for functional democracy, we meet Plato's requirements for dictatorship-dressed-as-democracy. And in such a world, populist speakers will ALWAYS trump rational speakers. Plato recognized that danger and saw it with his own eyes with the ruinous wars that the people were talked into fighting because they were ignorant and let others think for them.

For that reason, calling companies out will have minimal benefit. Companies are foerever being called out on charges of corruption, cowardice, or whatever. If it made any real impact, Halliburton and BP would no longer exist. Neither would AT&T. In fact, I'm trying hard to think of a major company out there that WOULD exist. They're all guilty and the Invisible Hand has served only to hand them "get out of jail free" cards.

Democracy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916344)

Amazon is a personification of the spirit of the Internet, which is one of true democracy

Eh? And here I thought Amazon was a company trying to make money by selling goods and services.

Re:Democracy? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916504)

And what could be more democratic than selling goods for compensation? Isn't that generally how democracy works? You pay them your vote for them to give you whatever you want. And in modern times, you pay their campaign a lot of money and get to dump your toxic waste wherever you like.

re: "Design for failure" (1)

Goose In Orbit (199293) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916350)

Well done Amazon - you succeeded in failing

One negative... (2)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916356)

When there's a 'service' you'd like to block (such as adverts), amazon hosting can make it rather difficult to consistently block them using an IP blacklist, without also blocking potentially useful things too.

Essentially though, they're just packaging the benefits of an economy of scale - things get cheaper the more you focus on larger supply, and thus they can make the most profits and cut off the most competition by scaling up so much with cheap prices. It's part of how companies from WalMart and Google compete so well.

Economies of scale are also one part of why markets inherently fail over time - competition almost always favors those who scale up best, who can then leverage that power over competitors, preventing them from growing to the same extent, and breaking any meaning to the freedom of the market. At that point, competition becomes defined by who can serve WalMart's interest best.

Ryan Fenton

Re:One negative... (0)

toetagger (642315) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916490)

This is what patents were and are supposed to solve! The problem today is not the "economy of scale" + "first mover advantage" = "win forever" but the "I see your 1 patent, and up you with my 1000 patents" threats to new companies. Even if you do have a neat idea and manage to get a patent for it, odds are you'll be sued for some patent infringement by either one of the big players who's lunch you try to eat, or by a patent troll that likes your lunch better than any other.

Where have I heard this before... (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916420)

Microsoft: We're sorry our product broke and a lot of people weren't able to get online. Slashdot: BURN THE HERETIC! Amazon: We're sorry our product broke and a lot of people weren't able to get online. Slashdot: It's okay. Here, have a cookie.

Re:Where have I heard this before... (1)

cecom (698048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916796)

One of them is a monopoly in a couple of important areas, and using that monopoly to muscle itself via brute force in nearly every single aspect of computing (gaming, mobile, cloud, etc) - guess which one?
Microsoft can no longer be judged solely on technical grounds (where fortunately they do suck).

Re:Where have I heard this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916814)

Microsoft can no longer be judged solely on technical grounds (where fortunately they do suck).

You must be living in a parallel universe, because Windows 7, Office and the XBox 360 definitely do not suck.

Re:Where have I heard this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916902)

Amazon, right? They have more near-monopolies in more areas, if I remember correctly.

Re:Where have I heard this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35917104)

you dont know what a monopoly means. if amazon disappeared tomorrow, nothing awful would happen. there are many other online stores, cloud providers, etc. think what would happen if microsoft disappeared? they have got you by the ballz, dude, but you are too clueless to realize it.

True democracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916440)

C'mon, does the word "democracy" mean anything anymore, or is it just decoration? The Amazon situation has nothing whatever to do with democracy, one way or another. It may have a great deal to do with the market, but as mainland China has demonstrated, you can have a highly competitive market without democracy. It's nice when they go together, but one does not necessarily entail the other.

Trapped on a Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916514)

Hi slashdot. I'm currently on a bus with wifi access and a busted DNS server. The IP address for slashdot is cached on my PC, so I am able to access here and post, but can't get anywhere else. Can somebody please post the IP address of an IP address lookup website so that I can access the rest of the internet. Thanks!

Re:Trapped on a Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916730)

google dns is 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 (if you don't mind them knowing that you're looking at she-male porn).

Re:Trapped on a Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35917108)

He and his wife say omg thank you...

Nope (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916528)

"'Amazon is a personification of the spirit of the Internet, which is one of true democracy"

I'm sure Wikileaks would disagree.

Made it Through Pretty Much Unscathed (5, Informative)

ShipIt (674797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916532)

Totally concur with others pointing out Amazon offers redundancy if you choose to use it.

We had webservers, database (master/slave,) and other services split across usa-east and usa-west.

When usa-east started showing problems, we:
*) Took the usa-east webservers out of round robin DNS (ttl 1hr)
*) Verified the slave (in usa-west) was up to date, shut down the master (usa-east,) and converted the slave to master.
*) Updated all webservers to point to the new master.
*) Cranked up new usa-west webservers / updated round robin DNS

I believe Amazon offers mechanisms to do this automatically or we could just always write our own failover scripts, but this is the tradeoff me made. We were willing to trade some service degradation by switching over manually in exchange for avoiding the pitfalls of false-positive detection. Very much an application specific tradeoff, not for everyone, but it worked for what we are doing.

The key was to avoid putting all eggs in the usa-east basket and splitting up across usa-west, even though we incur additional bandwidth fees, ie master/slave replication transfer is full fee between regions.

We were never concerned about cascading failures effecting multiple availability zones in a give region nor did it matter for us - our redundancy requirement was geographical diversity, not partitions within a datacenter. We were thinking natural disaster, but the architecture covered us in this case as well.

The coolest thing to me is just how quickly we were able to shuffle around these resources to avoid a problem area - a couple of hours. There's no way we could have done it so quickly with what we had before - a combination of our own colocated servers and VPS.

Re:Made it Through Pretty Much Unscathed (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917016)

Nail hit head, you are correct the key to staying running is planning for failure. Anyone that experienced a multi hour outage obviously had not thought things through.

Didn't even notice (1)

X.25 (255792) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916576)

There is a whole world out there who didn't even notice Amazon EC2 outage (me included).

Just sayin'.

lesson learnt (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916676)

I was directly affected by this outage. Once i discovered that the issue was at amazon and not at application- i restored from a previous snapshot, synced my application code, and associated my IP to a new instance in a functioning zone.

Total downtime for me was probably just under an hour. And that's including my debugging time.

Overall it wasn't the end of the world for me and i did discover I should make my redundancy setup run more frequently.

Sure i lost a few sales, but in a way i look at this as an example of why I should be better prepared for such an occurrence.

This still isnt as bad a when IBM pulled the wrong drives out of my server and wiped them.

true democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35917088)

as they showed in the wikileaks issue.

The dance (1)

skrimp (790524) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917148)

It's seems like all this article and comments are doing is dancing around the real issue. Amazon provides a pretty good service, but it's being attacked. It's like calling a car unreliable when thieves have stolen the wheels. I'm becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of effort being made to identify the attacker(s) and take appropriate action(s) against them.

#missioncritical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35917196)

Now this is a slightly concerning victim of cloud downtime:
https://forums.aws.amazon.com/thread.jspa?threadID=65649&tstart=0

"We are a monitoring company and are monitoring hundreds of cardiac patients at home.
We were unable to see their ECG signals since 21st of April"

And how much of the net, really ? (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917436)

rackspace.com, softlayer.com, hetzner.de -> most of the web is housed on big providers like these. personal, organization, and small businesses are alike. these providers' main business is renting racks and servers, which are then used by hosts to rent to end customers.

i dont know where does this 'how much of the net relies on amazon became clear' bullshit comes from. are there any statistics to show for it ? or, are people unaware of what's going on outside their little world window of expertise, so that they think that amazon cloud, for some reason, has become the 'backbone' of internet ?

really. where are the statistics ? all i see, some random guy gives away some pdf by hosting it through amazon's cloud, and then proceeds to claim that 'net' became too reliant on, amazon ...

really ....

Life of our patients is at stake - I am desperatel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35917442)

I think this [amazon.com] is a fake.. Would anyone be stupid enough to do this without redudancy?

I know I'm too naive and want to believe in people having common sense...

Amazon? Democracy? What a crock! (0)

austinhook (656358) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917494)

"Amazon is a personification of the spirit of the Internet, which is one of true democracy"

Isn't Amazon one of those nasty companies that banned Wikileaks from their servers? Qaddafi could explain democracy this way, but who else would be so innocent?

It shows a large opportunity it is for Apple (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35917930)

Let's just see how they expand their cloud services and see if it wants to eat at Amazon's other ventures.
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