On Friday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) took a hit, causing an outage that lasted a couple hours. The Northern Virginia data center saw significant "network connectivity issues" according to the AWS monitoring website.
When AWS is unavailable, it impacts many other websites and web services. Most notable, Netflix and NASA use AWS. A similar outage in August created issues for Netflix and other popular services—Instagram being one of them.
There are many players in the cloud space, but AWS has a huge lead over all of them. In a recent Gartner Magic Quadrant report, the lead that AWS has over its competitors seems to make it near impossible for hopefuls to catch up.
There Will Be Cloud Space Outages
Even with the most secure, redundant cloud service ever, hiccups and weather patterns will still cause outages. And, no matter how much we demand high SLAs, and no matter how good the provider's promises sound, there's just no way to ensure a constant connection. There will be outages.
The cloud truly is becoming just another public utility. If Netflix isn't working, we first blame our Internet provider and give them a phone call. When we determine the Internet provider is not the culprit, we blame Netflix. If that doesn't pan out (because, seriously, who knows how to get hold of Netflix?), we throw our hands up in the air and go read a book.
Growing Reliance on Cloud Services
Our growing reliance on cloud services like those offered by AWS is a bit scary. How many people do you think realize that Netflix relies on AWS? There's no good reason to have to know that. As AWS competitors start providing specialized services in order to better compete and build revenue, we'll all be using multiple services served across multiple providers. A single email or phone call just won't get the problem fixed anymore.
And, these are just consumer services. Amazon is trying hard to win enterprise business before Microsoft, with Windows Azure, has a chance to catch up. The number of outages is more concerning to business than the average consumer. If Netflix goes down, the consumer can just wait. If a business no longer has access to corporate data or applications critical to complete deals, deals are lost, and revenue tanks.
For now, an AWS outage is not a big deal. But, as more and more enterprises sign-on, providing better than a three month span between outages is critical.