Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Sunday, March 29, 2020
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Multi-Cloud Rivals See Opening in AWS Crash 

(GraphiTect/Shutterstock)

Cloud rivals pounced this week in response to a major outage at Amazon Web Services S3 cloud storage service, arguing that the high-profile crash underscores the need for enterprises to embrace a multi-cloud strategy that gives users a fallback option when a primary cloud provider suffers a failure.

The outage prompted plenty of schadenfreude on social media, including a Twitter post showing AWS technicians kneeling and praying before racks of servers. Hours after the outage surfaced, AWS posted to its Twitter account: "For S3, we believe we understand root cause and are working hard at repairing. Future updates across all services will be on dashboard."

The source of the outage, which was estimated to affect about 20 percent of the Internet, was traced to high error rates on AWS S3 in the cloud giant's US-East-1 region. Observers noted that the outage underscored the importance of distributing data across multiple regions.

"This is a wakeup call for those hosted on AWS and other providers to take a deeper look at how their infrastructure is set up and emphasizes the need for redundancy—a capability that AWS offers, but it’s now being revealed how few were actually using," said Shawn Moore, CTO of "web experience" platform vendor Solodev.

Direct competitors were harsher in their assessments. "Today's S3 crash will inevitably cost businesses millions of dollars," asserted Cloud Foundry CTO Chip Childers. "This is why all businesses need a multi-cloud strategy so they can adapt immediately when, inevitably, one of their cloud vendors experiences a failure.

"It’s not Amazon’s fault," Childers added. "It’s inevitable."

The outage also demonstrates the need for resiliency so enterprises can maintain high availability, added Michelle McLean, marketing vice president for ScaleArc, a database load balancing software vendor. "Companies should architect their systems to share operations across regions so that if one territory does down, the company retains operating systems, even if at lower capacity," McLean argued.

"Architecting for cross-region operations and failover is challenging, particularly at the data tier," she added. "Many companies rely on database load balancing software to make it easier to achieve cross-region failover, since the software enables applications to straddle multiple regions."

If the AWS outage provides an opening for competitors, industry analysts note they will likely emphasize the vulnerability as a "single point of failure" that could boost the efforts of hybrid cloud vendors such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE)

AWS stock (NASDAQ: AMZN) opened sharply lower in trading on Wednesday (March 1).

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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