Amazon gets 'black eye' from cloud outage

Analysts say downtime hurts Amazon, and cloud computing

For a company that's known as the dominant player in the cloud market, Amazon's troubles on Thursday means a black eye for the company and for the cloud in general.

Trouble started early Thursday morning when popular websites like Quora, foursquare and Reddit were left staggering or totally knocked out because of server problems in the Amazon datacenter that handles the company's Web hosting services.

While service was restored by 4 p.m. ET to some sites such as Foursquare, Quora was still disabled and Reddit was still being affected.

"Reddit is in 'emergency read-only mode' right now because Amazon is experiencing a degradation," the company noted on its site. "They are working on it, but we are still waiting for them to get to our volumes. You won't be able to log in. We're sorry and will fix the site as soon as we can."

According to AlertSite, a Web performance management company, between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET Thursday, one portion of the Reddit site took more than 60 seconds to load, only to return an error message. Foursquare's homepage had 84.44% availability between 8:15 a.m. and noon, also returning error messages explaining the downtime and slowness.

At 5:16 a.m. ET Thursday, site administrators reported that they were dealing with connectivity issues impacting Amazon's Relational Database Service, which is used to manage a cloud database, across multiple zones in the Eastern United States.

That means some Web sites were down or partially disabled for at least 11 hours.

While that's a problem for the downed sites, it's probably going to be tougher on Amazon itself, according to Robert Mahowald, an analyst with IDC. "Amazon is held as a paradigm of operational uptime," he said. "When this kind of thing happens, it definitely sends a chill through the whole cloud and hosted services industry.... It's absolutely a black eye. There's no doubt about it."

Mahowald was quick to point out that this kind of outage happens. It doesn't point to a specific operational problem at Amazon.

"This shouldn't give Amazon a bad reputation, but this is a very, very visible problem," he said. "I don't think it will turn people's heads away from using Amazon, but it will give companies that have been on the fence a lot of cause for pause. This will live on and on on the Web."

The biggest impact from the outage may be to the cloud itself, said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group.

"What will take a hit is the image of this technology as being one you can depend on, and that image was critically damaged today," he added. "If the outage continues for long, it could set back growth of this service years and permanently kill efforts by many to use this service in the future."

Given how high profile the outage has been, it may be hard to dismiss - especially for people who have to decide whether they're moving their enterprise to the cloud.

"This provides a massive showcase of the risk associated with these kinds of services, which are sold like utilities but don't yet have the reliability we expect of most utilities," said Enderle. "The impression being set today, if the outage continues, may take five to 10 years to fully recover from."

Keith Shaw chats with Network World's Jon Brodkin about the Amazon EC2 cloud service outage that brought down some high-profile Web sites on Thursday.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags cloud computinginternetamazon.com

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?