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Amazon Cloud outage causes Christmas Eve commotion


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Christmas Eve: mulled wine, popcorn, and a Christmas classic streamed direct from the Cloud to your internet-enabled device. Or, not, if you were relying on Netflix and Amazon’s Cloud services.

The outage, now cited as resulting from human error rather than server error, began at around midday on 24th December 2012 and affected streaming of Netflix to some, but not all, portable devices. Amazon is pinpointing accidental deletion of a portion of ELB data (which directs traffic to servers) as the cause of the disruption, which took around 24 hours to be rectified completely. Though the leisure application Netflix is the only application known to have been affected by the partial outage, it is not the only high profile outage this year that has prompted debate about the Cloud’s resilience.

The backlash has not been significant, given Netflix’s primary function as an entertainment tool and not a business-critical application. As Amazon is currently one of the largest managed service providers in the US, many customers attribute their understanding nature to the ‘complex infrastructure that is bound to suffer setbacks’ and competitively low rates. It is not until mission-centric platforms and software, hosted remotely on Amazon’s Cloud, come under fire that businesses will begin to suffer increased losses, not only financially but also to their brand’s perceived reliability. We can then expect customers to weigh up the benefits of low hosting costs against the drawbacks of commercial losses, realising the importance of utilising a resilient, business-grade Cloud for a slightly increased initial financial outlay. The debate over consumer vs. business Cloud services will continue into 2013, however in light of recent high profile outages such as the above, it is recommended that commercial organisations take the bait sooner rather than later.



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