Power Outage Shuts Down Cloud Computing Hubs for Amazon, Microsoft

By Erin Harrison August 10, 2011

If this isn’t a case for disaster recovery, I don’t know what is.

A power outage in Dublin, Ireland cut off power to major cloud computing data hubs for Amazon and Microsoft this week, according to several media reports.

A lightning strike caused power outages at data hubs for Amazon and Microsoft, resulting in downtime for many sites using Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing platform and users of Microsoft’s BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), Data Center Knowledge reported.

In a message posted Aug. 10, Amazon explained, “The transient electric deviation caused by the explosion was large enough that it propagated to a portion of the phase control system that synchronizes the backup generator plant, disabling some of them.”

Although several Amazon sites were restored, others would take as many as 48 hours or more to come back in service, the report said. According to Amazon’s Service Health Dashboard, its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud and Amazon Relational Database Service hubs, for example, continue to have connectivity issues as of 10 a.m. Pacific Wednesday.

According to media reports, by 1:56 p.m. Pacific time on Monday, power to the majority of network devices had been restored, allowing Amazon to focus on bringing EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) instances and EBS (Elastic Block Storage) volumes back online. 

InfoWorld said that Amazon started adding more EBS capacity to speed up the recovery process.

In addition to Amazon customers, users of Microsoft’s BPOS were also affected.

“European customers of Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Standard Suite were also affected by the power outage. But services were restored to all customers by 5:45 p.m. PT,” a spokesman told InfoWorld via email.

According to InfoWorld, a spokesperson for Amazon customer Layar – one of the affected companies – expects Amazon to produce a final report on the incident detailing how it will prevent potential future occurrences.

Ireland has become a key cloud computing gateway for U.S. companies for several reasons, including the city’s location, connectivity, climate and ready supply of IT workers, Data Center Knowledge said.

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Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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