Amazon Cloud Outage Gives VARs Opportunity To Take Lead, Educate


Amazon's cloud outage and what caused it are still under investigation, and Amazon has come under fire for its lack of communication around the outage.

But Amazon's fumble can be turned into a victory for channel partners, who have the opportunity to take the lead and help clients navigate the silence surrounding the outage. While Amazon's lack of consistent updates during the cloud outage angered users, Amazon's radio silence gave cloud solution providers and VARs the chance to step in and take control.

"Amazon didn't come with an explanation until days later," said Vanessa Alvarez, a Forrester Research analyst. "That could have been an opportunity for a VAR."

Alvarez said the Amazon cloud outage opened the door for solution providers to add value in the form of keeping customers abreast of the situation, offering customers options and helping them examine other providers. Solution providers were also valuable for customers looking to determine whether to move off of Amazon altogether and to educate their client base around the ins and outs of the cloud.

"They could be that broker, that hands on resource that companies need," she said.

Amazon still hasn't determined what caused the multi-day cloud outage that rocked the cloud computing industry and drew fire from customers, prompting cloud solution providers to call Amazon's cloud outage a "cautionary tale" of cloud computing.

"[T]he team is working very diligently on the root causes and learnings from this event, and will share the post mortem shortly," Amazon wrote in its AWS Service Health Dashboard at 7 p.m. Eastern Tuesday.

Last Thursday, Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Relational Database Service (RDS) suffered service interruptions and outages for users of Amazon's North Virginia data center. Amazon said the trouble was in its Elastic Block Storage (EBS) service in which some data was getting "stuck."

By Monday, Amazon's cloud services had fully returned to normal, however, a small percentage of customer data was lost forever and Amazon was contacting those customers.

"We have completed our remaining recovery efforts and though we've recovered nearly all of the stuck volumes, we've determined that a small number of volumes (0.07% of the volumes in our US-East Region) will not be fully recoverable. We're in the process of contacting these customers," Amazon wrote on the Health Dashboard shortly after 4 p.m. Eastern Monday.

Amazon has not said how many customers were affected and has not responded to requests for additional comment.

Cloud solution providers said the outage highlights the important role VARs and integrators can play for clients to help them build and understand reliable cloud solution, while offering services and support around them.

"Companies really need to partner with service providers/integrators who have experience architecting solutions in the cloud in order to minimize impact to their services during outages like those seen last week," said Jeremy Przygode, CEO of Stratalux, a Los Angeles-based cloud solution provider. "If companies simply think of IaaS services as virtualization of existing services without re-architecting their solutions then they will get into trouble as many did last week. Those companies who partnered with cloud specific service providers and/or integrators will weather the storm a lot better than those who don’t."

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