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Lessons Learned from the Amazon Web Services Outage
The only surprising thing about this AWS outage was that anyone was surprised by it

On Monday, Amazon Web Services — the leading provider of cloud services — suffered an outage, and as a result, a long list of well-known and popular websites went dark. According to Amazon’s Service Health Dashboard, the outage started out as degraded performance of a small number of Elastic Bloc Store (EBS) storage units in the US-EAST-1 Region, then evolved to include problems with the Relational Database Service and Elastic Beanstalk as well.

AWS outage takes down Reddit

WEBSITE DOWN: AWS outage takes down Reddit and other popular sites

The only surprising thing about this AWS outage was that anyone was surprised by it. It wasn’t the first time AWS had a major outage or problems with this data center. If you remember, back in June a line of powerful thunderstorms knocked the power out at a major Amazon hosting center. The backup generator failed, then the software failed, and, well, you know the drill. A corollary of Murphy’s Law is that if multiple things can go wrong, they will all go wrong at once.

In both of these instances (and in all Amazon Web Services outages, in fact) some customers were knocked “off the air” while others continued running without a hiccup. You would think that eventually companies will learn to anticipate the inevitable AWS outages and take active steps to prepare for them. There are best practices and solutions on how to reduce vulnerability to an outage, but they’re rarely implemented. That’s because people don’t think that anything could happen to Amazon — obviously, things happen.

Instances like this are a learning opportunity if we take the time to think about why they happened and what could have been done to prevent them. Here are six lessons that I think we can learn from the Amazon Web Services outages.

Lesson 1 — Clouds are made of components that can fail. When people think of the cloud, they think that there is some amorphous and untouchable blog up in the sky. And while that’s a nice bit of marketing, it is not a useful model for operational planning. Be mindful of your cloud provider’s architecture and how it is built to manage failure of a component or a zone blackout. Then anticipate that failures can happen at any point in the cloud infrastructure.

Lesson 2 — The stress of failure will trigger a cascade of other failures. After reading a description of the outage, you get the sense that it was just one thing after another. What started as a small issue affecting one Northern Virginia data center quickly spread, causing a chain reaction and outage that disrupted much of the Internet for several hours. Remember Murphy and his law?

Lesson 3 – -Spikes matter. When a cloud fails, hundreds of customers are impacted. As they try to recover, they will be stressing the cloud provider’s infrastructure with a peak load that is guaranteed to cause even more problems. If you get these transition spikes, they get worse and worse. Every time you reboot, it takes longer and longer. If you have ten servers doing that, that’s bad. If you spike a thousand servers, that’s really bad. Something that would have taken five minutes to fix will now take five hours when you get into that transition type of syndrome.

Lesson 4 — Cloud providers provide the tools to manage failure, but it is up to you to put your own failover plans in place. AWS, for example, is broken into zones. If a component in the Virginia zone goes down and the whole matrix is dead, then (in theory) you should be able to move all your data to another zone. That other zone might be hosted, unaffected, in Ireland and then you are up and running again. This is one of the big differences between the cloud and more traditional approaches to IT. It is up to the application (and by extension, the application’s designer) to manage its interaction with the cloud environment, up to and including failover. Most cloud providers offer tools and frameworks to support failover, but you are responsible for implementing that best practice into your system operation and into the applications.

Lesson 5 — You need to put your failover plans through a full-blown load test. It’s not enough to have a strategy in place for failover. You have to test it under real-world conditions. Even the best laid failover plans, once implemented and designed, might have hiccups when a real outage occurs. A full-blown cloud load test can help you see how long the failover process will take to kick in and what other dependencies might need to be sorted out. Obviously this isn’t easy. If it was, Reddit, Foursquare, Airbnb and others wouldn’t have been impacted by the AWS outage.

Lesson 6 — Conduct fire drills. While a load test will confirm that your failover plan works as you expect, it will also give your team some real experience in executing the plan. Remember the fire drills you used to do in school? Fire drills help train students, teachers, and others to know exactly what they’re supposed to do and where they’re supposed to go in the event of an emergency. All the bugs in the process are worked out during the fire drill, and the more everybody does the drills, the more comfortable there are with what they need to do. And if a real emergency happens, everybody knows how to leave the building calmly. You want to do the same thing with your failover plan, and load testing can help you get there. Fire drills save lives and load tests save cloud apps.

Is your failure worth more than $28?

Amazon offers reimbursement to its customers based on the amount of downtime the customer experiences. The last time our Amazon Web Services went down, we got a $28 reimbursement. So my final lesson learned (I guess this makes for seven lessons) is this: The cost of downtime for your organization — in lost revenue, poor customer experience, etc. — is far, far greater than just what you are paying your cloud provider. $28 is not going to save your day. You have to make sure that you have a failover solution that’s ready and working. Don’t wait for Amazon to solve this problem for you, because it’s only a $28 problem for it.

The biggest lesson learned from these AWS outages is that you need to configure properly and you need to train your people. These types of events will always happen, and when they do, you need to be trained ahead of time. Load testing itself is a good way to validate and train. That way when a real emergency occurs, your team can react in a calm, collected manner to a situation they’ve experienced dozens of times before.

Read the original blog entry...

About Sven Hammar
Sven Hammar is Co-Founder and CEO of Apica. In 2005, he had the vision of starting a new SaaS company focused on application testing and performance. Today, that concept is Apica, the third IT company I’ve helped found in my career.

Before Apica, he co-founded and launched Celo Commuication, a security company built around PKI (e-ID) solutions. He served as CEO for three years and helped grow the company from five people to 85 people in two years. Right before co-founding Apica, he served as the Vice President of Marketing Bank and Finance at the security company Gemplus (GEMP).

Sven received his masters of science in industrial economics from the Institute of Technology (LitH) at Linköping University. When not working, you can find Sven golfing, working out, or with family and friends.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
Lisa Larson, Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions of Rackspace Hosting Live From New York City
In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

Keynote: Driving Cloud Innovation: SSDs Change Cloud Storage Paradigm
Cloud is a transformational shift in computing that can have a powerful effect on enterprise IT when designed correctly and used to its full potential. Join Citrix in a discussion that centers on building, connecting and empowering users with cloud services and hear examples of how enterprises are solving real-world business challenges with an architecture and solution purpose-built for the cloud.

Go Beyond IaaS to Deliver "Anything As a Service"
Many organizations want to expand upon the IaaS foundation to deliver cloud services in all forms—software, mobility, infrastructure and IT. Understanding the strategy, planning process and tools for this transformation will help catalyze changes in the way the business operates and deliver real value. Join us to learn about the new ITaaS model and how to begin the transformation.


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SYS-CON Events announced today that Creative Business Solutions will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Creative Business Solutions is the top stocking authorized HP Renew Distributor in the U.S. Based out of Long Island, NY, Creative Business Solutions offers a one-stop shop for a diverse range of products including Proliant, Blade and Industry Standard Servers, Networking, Server Options and...
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. But what about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today's databases are anything but agile - they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application an...
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Top Stories for Cloud Expo 2012 East

In this "Cloud Trends" Power Panel at the 10th International Cloud Expo, moderated by Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan, Karen Padir, EVP of Products & Engineering at EnterpriseDB, and Aaron Hollobaugh, VP of Marketing & Communications at Hostway Corporation, map the hottest areas of cloud computing right now, and share real-world examples of offerings that are generating value. ... (more)

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Cloud Expo New York
[June 11-14, 2012]

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Introducing Big Data Expo
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There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
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Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
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With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
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We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
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@CloudExpo Blogs
At the onset of 2015 it seems that Business Intelligence software has become a nearly consensual part of any data-driven organization. Today companies large and small are realizing, more than ever, that "data is power", and that harnessing this power requires the right tools for the job. But in the near future we might see BI take another direction: Rather than companies merely purchasing dashboard reporting software for the purposes of internal usage, we'll be seeing a surge in companies looking to integrate advanced analytics and reporting into their own products. Welcome to the world of ...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the M2M space. This really allows some room for influential individuals to create more high value inter...
The 15th International Cloud Expo and 2nd ThingsExpo finished up last week at the Santa Clara Convention Center. There were many exhibitors, many attendees, and many great sessions. Discussions were lively throughout, continuing after hours after each of the three days of the show. Here's what I learned: Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are a reality. This may seem obvious to anyone in the industry, and it was confirmed throughout each day last week. Cloud is not going to be a ubiquitous utility anytime soon, as might have been thought a few years ago. The market for private cloud – derided...
SaaS and cloud computing continue to gain real traction in the enterprise – and that trend is sure to continue for a long time to come. But the reality is that, to date, those gaining real benefit from cloud at the enterprise level have been limited largely to isolated pockets; e.g., software development and operations teams leveraging Infrastructure and Platform as a Service (IaaS and PaaS) to slash costs and improve agility; sales teams licensing their own SaaS CRM systems; or lines of business “going rogue” and sidestepping IT by using apps like Dropbox to facilitate easier file sharing ins...
"The year ahead brings accelerated disruption, as those technologies which we spoke about last year as being emergent -- have now begun to evolve to practical application," stated Puneet Gupta, Brillio's Chief Technology Officer. "We are seeing the industry's rapid adoption of next-generation platforms and services centered on cloud, mobility, big data and the Internet of Things. As our customers continue to leverage technology for digital transformation, Brillio looks towards 2015 as the year we push the limits of where technology can go -- as a way to bridge the gap between existing and new ...
It’s that time of year when we gift and re-gift, just like this text from last year. And the perfect opportunity to re-post, re-purpose and re-use all my 2014 blog entries. If you missed any of the 96 attempts including 57 videos, here they are wrapped in one simple entry. I read somewhere that lists in blogs are good. I broke it out by month to see what was happening at the time and let's be honest, pure self promotion.
While the initial usage of the Cloud Platform was clearly for the IaaS offerings, the trend is shifting and the PaaS delivery model is gaining a lot of attention. Most of the analysts like IDC and Gartner have predicted huge growth for PaaS in the coming years. IDC predicts Platform as a Service (PaaS) and cloud storage services will be the fastest-growing categories, driven by major upticks in developer cloud services adoption and Big Data-driven solutions, respectively.
When the Tsunami of system failures paralyzes your organization from a coordinated cyber-attack, it’s too late for the CEO to think your organization can “get through this event.” It’s too late. Too many top executives and futurists are giddy about what the future holds with the “Internet of Things” and the growth of technology-based applications cutting across many, if not all, industries. Few are talking about reinforcing corporate systems as well as hardening facilities and mission critical applications to withstand cyber-sabotage and EMP attacks because few, if any, are even qualified to...
Companies in all industries have been moving some aspects of their operations away from traditional IT and data center functions to the cloud – but usually not everything. Doing so can be somewhat scary, for a myriad of reasons, especially if a company’s cloud strategy isn’t locked up, secure and ironed out ahead of time. More often than not, companies are finding their way to the hybrid cloud – commonly defined as the combination of an on-premise cloud or IT operation and a public cloud service.
The concept of Internet of Things (IoT) is not exactly new, but when it intersects with other buzzworthy technologies such as Cloud and Big Data, combined they reach fever pitch. The Internet of Things was first coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton who co-founded the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which created a global standard system for RFID and other sensors. He is given credit for the term Internet of Things to describe a system where the Internet is connected to the physical world via ubiquitous sensors. But prior to this auspicious start, we can trace the...
"Appcore has been around since January 2008. We exclusively built clouds for service providers. We've been working with CloudStack since about that same time and our software sits on top of CloudStack," stated Jeff Tegethoff, CEO of Appcore, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
'Tis the season of light. With Diwali recently concluded, we've now entered the days of the Hannukah Festival, the Advent Season, the Nativity Fast, and in the Philippines, the onset of Simbang Gabi (“Night Mass”), a series of evening services as Christmas approaches. The Yule log is also burning metaphorically if not literally throughout much of the Western world. All center on the presence of light. As we enter the new year, fireworks will be obstreperously on display throughout the world, with the global light show extending into the Chinese New Year (literally, “Spring Festival”) in Fe...
Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, has published the results of a survey conducted at the beginning of 2014, on ICT usage in enterprises with a special focus on the use of cloud computing services in the EU Member States. Eurostat’s “finding” centered on the “fact” that cloud computing services have been used (in 2014) by only one out of every five (19%) enterprises in the EU28.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.

Following many conversations with clients, partners and prospects, Rosslyn Analytics has published its annual predictions for data analytics in 2015.

Untitled Document
Past SYS-CON Events
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2011west.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcexpo
2011east.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2010west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2010.
sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcomputingexpo
2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
virtualizationconference
2010east.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
govitexpo.com
 
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2009.sys-con.com
 

Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group