Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Cloud Best Practices Network

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Apache, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Cloud Conversations: Gaining Cloud Confidence | Part 2

Insights into AWS Outages

This is the second in a two-part industry trends and perspective looking at learning from cloud incidents, view part I here.

There is good information, insight and lessons to be learned from cloud outages and other incidents.

Sorry cynics no that does not mean an end to clouds, as they are here to stay. However when and where to use them, along with what best practices, how to be ready and configure for use are part of the discussion. This means that clouds may not be for everybody or all applications, or at least today. For those who are into clouds for the long haul (either all in or partially) including current skeptics, there are many lessons to be learned and leveraged.

In order to gain confidence in clouds, some questions that I routinely am asked include are clouds more or less reliable than what you are doing? Depends on what you are doing, and how you will be using the cloud services. If you are applying HA and other BC or resiliency best practices, you may be able to configure and isolate from the more common situations. On the other hand, if you are simply using the cloud services as a low-cost alternative selecting the lowest price and service class (SLAs and SLOs), you might get what you paid for. Thus, clouds are a shared responsibility, the service provider has things they need to do, and the user or person designing how the service will be used have some decisions making responsibilities.

Keep in mind that high availability (HA), resiliency, business continuance (BC) along with disaster recovery (DR) are the sum of several pieces. This includes people, best practices, processes including change management, good design eliminating points of failure and isolating or containing faults, along with how the components or technology used (e.g. hardware, software, networks, services, tools). Good technology used in goods ways can be part of a highly resilient flexible and scalable data infrastructure. Good technology used in the wrong ways may not leverage the solutions to their full potential.

While it is easy to focus on the physical technologies (servers, storage, networks, software, facilities), many of the cloud services incidents or outages have involved people, process and best practices so those need to be considered.

These incidents or outages bring awareness, a level set, that this is still early in the cloud evolution lifecycle and to move beyond seeing clouds as just a way to cut cost, and seeing the importance and value HA, resiliency, BC and DR. This means learning from mistakes, taking action to correct or fix errors, find and cut points of failure are part of a technology maturing or the use of it. These all tie into having services with service level agreements (SLAs) with service level objectives (SLOs) for availability, reliability, durability, accessibility, performance and security among others to protect against mayhem or other things that can and do happen.

Image of lightning striking a building
Images licensed for use by StorageIO via Atomazul /

The reason I mentioned earlier that AWS had another incident is that like their peers or competitors who have incidents in the past, AWS appears to be going through some growing, maturing, evolution related activities. During summer 2012 there was an AWS incident that affected Netflix (read more here: AWS and the Netflix Fix?). It should also be noted that there were earlier AWS outages where Netflix (read about Netflix architecture here) leveraged resiliency designs to try and prevent mayhem when others were impacted.

Mayhem video from YouTube via Allstate

Is AWS a lightning rod for things to happen, a point of attraction for Mayhem and others?

Granted given their size, scope of services and how being used on a global basis AWS is blazing new territory and experiences, similar to what other information services delivery platforms did in the past. What I mean is that while taken for granted today, open systems Unix, Linux, Windows-based along with client-server, midrange or distributed systems, not to mention mainframe hardware, software, networks, processes, procedures, best practices all went through growing pains.

There are a couple of interesting threads going on over in various LinkedIn Groups based on some reporters stories including on speculation of what happened, followed with some good discussions of what actually happened and how to prevent recurrence of them in the future.

Over in the Cloud Computing, SaaS & Virtualization group forum, this thread is based on a Forbes article (Amazon AWS Takes Down Netflix on Christmas Eve) and involves conversations about SLAs, best practices, HA and related themes. Have a look at the story the thread is based on and some of the assertions being made, and ensuing discussions.

Also over at LinkedIn, in the Cloud Hosting & Service Providers group forum, this thread is based on a story titled Why Netflix' Christmas Eve Crash Was Its Own Fault with a good discussion on clouds, HA, BC, DR, resiliency and related themes.

Over at the Virtualization Practice, there is a piece titled Is Amazon Ruining Public Cloud Computing? with comments from me and Adrian Cockcroft (@Adrianco) a Netflix Architect (you can read his blog here). You can also view some presentations about the Netflix architecture here.

What this all means

Saying you get what you pay for would be too easy and perhaps not applicable.

There are good services free, or low-cost, just like good free content and other things, however vice versa, just because something costs more, does not make it better.

Otoh, there are services that charge a premium however may have no better if not worse reliability, same with content for fee or perceived value that is no better than what you get free.

Additional related material

Some closing thoughts:

  • Clouds are real and can be used safely; however, they are a shared responsibility.
  • Only you can prevent cloud data loss, which means do your homework, be ready.
  • If something can go wrong, it probably will, particularly if humans are involved.
  • Prepare for the unexpected and clarify assumptions vs. realities of service capabilities.
  • Leverage fault isolation and containment to prevent rolling or spreading disasters.
  • Look at cloud services beyond lowest cost or for cost avoidance.
  • What is your organizations culture for learning from mistakes vs. fixing blame?
  • Ask yourself if you, your applications and organization are ready for clouds.
  • Ask your cloud providers if they are ready for you and your applications.
  • Identify what your cloud concerns are to decide what can be done about them.
  • Do a proof of concept to decide what types of clouds and services are best for you.

Do not be scared of clouds, however be ready, do your homework, learn from the mistakes, misfortune and errors of others. Establish and leverage known best practices while creating new ones. Look at the past for guidance to the future, however avoid clinging to, and bringing the baggage of the past to the future. Use new technologies, tools and techniques in new ways vs. using them in old ways.

Ok, nuff said.

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

twitter @storageio

All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2013 StorageIO All Rights Reserved

Cheers Gs

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

@CloudExpo Stories
There are many considerations when moving applications from on-premise to cloud. It is critical to understand the benefits and also challenges of this migration. A successful migration will result in lower Total Cost of Ownership, yet offer the same or higher level of robustness. Migration to cloud shifts computing resources from your data center, which can yield significant advantages provided that the cloud vendor an offer enterprise-grade quality for your application.
Overgrown applications have given way to modular applications, driven by the need to break larger problems into smaller problems. Similarly large monolithic development processes have been forced to be broken into smaller agile development cycles. Looking at trends in software development, microservices architectures meet the same demands. Additional benefits of microservices architectures are compartmentalization and a limited impact of service failure versus a complete software malfunction....
Manufacturing has widely adopted standardized and automated processes to create designs, build them, and maintain them through their life cycle. However, many modern manufacturing systems go beyond mechanized workflows to introduce empowered workers, flexible collaboration, and rapid iteration. Such behaviors also characterize open source software development and are at the heart of DevOps culture, processes, and tooling.
Containers are revolutionizing the way we deploy and maintain our infrastructures, but monitoring and troubleshooting in a containerized environment can still be painful and impractical. Understanding even basic resource usage is difficult - let alone tracking network connections or malicious activity. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gianluca Borello, Sr. Software Engineer at Sysdig, will cover the current state of the art for container monitoring and visibility, including pros / cons and li...
Between the compelling mockups and specs produced by analysts, and resulting applications built by developers, there exists a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral, and applications disappoint. Methodologies like Agile attempt to address this with intensified communication, with partial success but many limitations. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a revolutionary model enabled by new technologies. Learn how busine...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
Containers are changing the security landscape for software development and deployment. As with any security solutions, security approaches that work for developers, operations personnel and security professionals is a requirement. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, Kevin Gilpin, CTO and Co-Founder of Conjur, will discuss various security considerations for container-based infrastructure and related DevOps workflows.
The web app is agile. The REST API is agile. The testing and planning are agile. But alas, data infrastructures certainly are not. Once an application matures, changing the shape or indexing scheme of data often forces at best a top down planning exercise and at worst includes schema changes that force downtime. The time has come for a new approach that fundamentally advances the agility of distributed data infrastructures. Come learn about a new solution to the problems faced by software organ...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, ...
IT data is typically silo'd by the various tools in place. Unifying all the log, metric and event data in one analytics platform stops finger pointing and provides the end-to-end correlation. Logs, metrics and custom event data can be joined to tell the holistic story of your software and operations. For example, users can correlate code deploys to system performance to application error codes.
As-a-service models offer huge opportunities, but also complicate security. It may seem that the easiest way to migrate to a new architectural model is to let others, experts in their field, do the work. This has given rise to many as-a-service models throughout the industry and across the entire technology stack, from software to infrastructure. While this has unlocked huge opportunities to accelerate the deployment of new capabilities or increase economic efficiencies within an organization, i...
For almost two decades, businesses have discovered great opportunities to engage with customers and even expand revenue through digital systems, including web and mobile applications. Yet, even now, the conversation between the business and the technologists that deliver these systems is strained, in large part due to misaligned objectives. In his session at DevOps Summit, James Urquhart, Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics at SOASTA, Inc., will discuss how measuring user outcomes –...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete en...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Key Information Systems, Inc. (KeyInfo), a leading cloud and infrastructure provider offering integrated solutions to enterprises, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Key Information Systems is a leading regional systems integrator with world-class compute, storage and networking solutions and professional services for the most advanced softwa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.