Cloud Hosting Service Breakdown Raises Questions – 05/02/2011

Online retail giant Amazon Inc. has experienced an outage of its Web-hosting and cloud-computing platform Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Relational Database Service (RDS).

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It was reported that only the East Coast of the United States was affected by the outage, in particular Amazon’s data center close to Dulles Airport on the outskirts of Washington.

Late last week, websites such as Foursquare, Reddit, and Quora were not available due a disruption to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) division.

The company has issued an apology in response to the situation on its website: “We know how critical our Cloud hosting services are to our customers’ businesses and we will do everything we can to learn from this event and use it to drive improvement across our services. … [The company will] spend many hours over the coming days and weeks improving our understanding of the details of the various parts of this event and determining how to make changes to improve our services and processes.”

The popularity of companies opting for remote storage of data online rather than on their own computers is ever increasing. This instance highlights the risks associated with such “renting” of virtual storage of information.

As Amazon’s cloud-computing facilities were linked to the back-end of several popular websites, the home pages of such websites were also unavailable. Amazon basically rents out computer time and storage space to companies. This business area is still being developed and is not a core part of Amazon’s operations, but its long-term vision is apparent.

As compensation, AWS has offered a 10-day service credit to all subscribers of its service, irrespective of whether their operations were impacted or not.