Power Outages: The Achilles' Heel of Cloud-Based Web Services

By Tracey E. Schelmetic July 05, 2012

So has Mother Nature showed us the limitations of cloud computing? Many are now saying so, after storms in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region late last week led to a long outage of Amazon Web Services (AWS), including the company's cloud storage initiatives.

AWS is a collection of remote computing services (also called Web services) that together make up a cloud computing platform, offered over the Internet by Amazon.com. The most central and well-known of these services are Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3.

The powerful storms that that began in the mid-Atlantic area on June 29 hit Virginia particularly hard, eWeek reported, causing blackouts for hundreds of thousands of utility customers, one of which was one of 10 East Coast data centers for Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Compounding the difficulty were problems with the backup power system at the Virginia facility, as well as unexpected software problems that occurred during recovery efforts.

The storm-related outages directly affected Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which interrupted a number of high-profile Web services such as Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest, and a number of smaller companies that run all or part of their businesses in the Amazon cloud.

The outages came at the wrong time for Amazon, which is trying with all its might to compete with similar cloud storage services offered by Google, Apple and others.

This wasn't the first time AWS experienced a major outage. In late April of 2011, Amazon Web Services experienced another partial blackout attributed to technical issues.

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Contributor

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