This past Sunday (September 20, 2015) Amazon Web Services experienced a very large, very widespread database crash at one of the their older facilities. These cloud and online services are used by countless small to medium sized businesses as well as many industry giants such as Netflix, Reddit, and Tinder. As you would expect, the public was quick to comment.
Hey @netflix You guys have some outage of some sort? Can’t play anything. Been happening all morning.
— Leinda (@leinda81) September 20, 2015
Tinder goes down..how am I supposed to find a wife now??
— Kinkdogg (@kinkdogg) September 20, 2015
Companies are quick to adopt technology that promises ease and automation, and the digital age has made many things “easy” for us. The world as we know it is slowly being uploaded and accessed. After all, who wants to invest in a second hard drive, right? Seriously though, during this “downtime” the companies that incorporated AWS services are almost useless to their users.
As a business, what happens when services you rely on, that are designed for widespread public consumption, fail?
Justin Warren, a contributor to Forbes, touched on the crucial design decisions that must go into any software or technology that may require things like “cloud access” shortly after Amazon Web Service’s most current hiccup.
“Figuring out what to do here requires understanding what you’re trying to achieve, and what the trade-offs are. That means understanding both the characteristics of your deployment choice (on-site, cloud, or a hybrid approach) and the characteristics of the application you then need to design, build, and run… …And you need to consider what happens when your choice of solution breaks, because it will, even if only temporarily.” – AWS Outage Doesn’t Change Anything, Sept 20, 2015
Just like investing in a plowing service to make sure your customers can arrive and enter your brick-and-mortar store in the winter, the same focus needs to be paid to the infrastructure, reliability, and accessibility of every virtual service you choose to adopt.
The simple reality is that we have come to expect blanketed solutions for our workflows, our business, and ultimately our consumption. While it is not wrong to blame Amazon Web Services, Warren suggests that the responsibility is equally shared by the companies that create/develop these applications and it is unrealistic to think that the service would never experience issues. We need to understand and acknowledge that it is the business, that connects the customers to the technology/service. The purpose of this connection is to allow access to “the product” or to provide “the service”. Netflix subscribers do not care what service is delivering the content, just that it is being delivered. Understanding this, means that just as much thought and care should be involved in the adoption and implementation of these outside tools. This means care during development, foresight of trouble and contingencies for issues. Even if it removes some of the “easy” on the businesses end.