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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 / Shutterstock.com

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...

About 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 www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
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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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Testimonials
Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
SVP, Global Infrastructure Management, CSS Corp.
 
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..."
PETE MALCOLM
CEO, Abiquo
 
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
Video Blog: DevOps and Hybrid Cloud - A Solution Overview. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Microservices focuses on the business and technology of the software architecture design pattern, in which complex applications are composed of small, independent processes communicating with each other using language-agnostic APIs. Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda.
This week we're attending SYS-CON Event's DevOps Summit in New York City. It's a great conference and energy behind DevOps is enormous. Thousands of attendees from every company you can imagine are focused on automation, the challenges of DevOps, and how to bring greater agility to software delivery. But, even with the energy behind DevOps there's something missing from the movement. For all the talk of deployment automation, continuous integration, and cloud infrastructure I'm still not seeing an adequate roadmap for how DevOps aligns with the larger organization. DevOps is about deliver...
Okay, kids. It's time we had "that talk". You know the one, the one you've been whispering about with your friends but heretofore were afraid to actually ask about because of course everyone else knows about it and you didn't want to appear, well, not cool by admitting you didn't really know. Except they don't, or at least if they do, they aren't talking about it either. And it's really past time we talked about taking the right precautions when using the cloud. You know, how to protect your apps in the cloud from infection and attack. Yes, today we're finally going to talk about appli...
Almost every functional department in a business is thinking about how the cloud applies to them. The benefits are clear – it is easier for geographically diverse teams to access and collaborate over data, it is convenient for users, and it can cost far less. When it comes to performance testing, the benefits of the cloud are very compelling. All that load you need to generate to truly test your application can come from external, elastic, on-demand sources. You don’t have to build it out yourself. However, you may also perceive some challenges that might prevent you from conducting load test...
Tech Giant Amazon recently announced that it will pay writers only for the pages that are actually read rather that for the purchase of an entire book. This is probably the biggest change that the world of publishing has ever seen, right after the invention of the printing press maybe, that fundamentally changes how books are consumed. This exactly is the Consumption Cloud Economy! The concept of offering services and solutions in a way where they are consumed to the best of capabilities, where end users pay only for what they use and where vendors and suppliers are paid only for what is actu...
The combined impact of the consumerization of technology, cloud, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) is ushering in a new era of information management that will change the face of ECM (Enterprise Content Management) as we know it. Cloud, mobile and IoT together have accelerated a mighty upheaval in the technology landscape as more content enters the enterprise than ever before – leaving enterprises struggling to manage it effectively. The modern ECM platform is required to scan, store data, manage work flow, business process and compliance. Mobile, Analytics, Cloud and Collaborative (MA...
The last decade was about virtual machines, but the next one is about containers. Containers enable a service to run on any host at any time. Traditional tools are starting to show cracks because they were not designed for this level of application portability. Now is the time to look at new ways to deploy and manage applications at scale. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Jake Moshenko, Product Manager at CoreOS, examined how CoreOS + Quay.io fit into the development lifecycle from pushing git changes all the way through to running in production. Attendees will understand how different comp...
SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Thank you for joining us today, Derek. Can you please give us an overview of your background? Derek Gabbard: It’s a pleasure to be with you today. Before coming to SRC and working to help launch FourV Systems, I worked in the information and network security world for almost 20 years. I was a founder of Lookingglass Cyber Solutions, a cyber-threat intelligence product company, and spent a number of years working at the Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) in the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. I got my start in this career field in...
Where’s my data? Not in the ‘where did I leave my glasses’ sort of way, but rather thinking of data resilience, a key concern for many businesses putting their data and applications in the cloud. It’s especially crucial in light of the recent EMC Global Data Protection Index, which showed that almost two thirds of companies surveyed suffered disruption due to data loss and unplanned downtime—losing as much as $1.7 trillion.” That’s a staggering number, larger than the GDP of many countries. That’s why, when assessing their operational problems – be that those caused by people (e.g. users de...
Data center models are changing. A variety of technical trends and business demands are forcing that change, most of them centered on the explosive growth of applications. That means, in turn, that the requirements for application delivery are changing. Certainly application delivery needs to be agile, not waterfall. It needs to deliver services in hours, not weeks or months. It needs to be more cost efficient. And more than anything else, it needs to be really, dc infra axisreally, super focused on applications. Especially those services that are particularly application affine. You know the...
I recently attended and presented at the east coast version of the Jenkins User Conference held this year in Washington, DC. The weather certainly fit the theme of the conference: The heat was continuous. The humidity was fully integrated with the heat. And, most importantly as you can see above, SWAG was out in full force. Right from the opening keynote by the founder of Jenkins, Kohsuke Kawaguchi, this conference was jam-packed with all the latest capabilities of Jenkins, including discussions around the new capabilities like workflow, and several sessions on Linux containers, micro-servi...
In this final blog on the DevOps CALMS model, we end on S for Sharing. Now I have to be honest, the first time I saw the CALMS model I initially questioned whether ‘Sharing' was really needed. I mean, surely with the right ‘Culture', then this would ensure sharing anyway? Even in my blog on culture I mentioned the need to shift from organizational silos to a collaborative model - which must include sharing, right? Well yes it does, but sharing (or collaboration) is really the core value of DevOps adoption. Without sharing, you can forget about having the right culture, your employees acceptin...
For some, SDN was about operational efficiency; about driving more stability and consistency out of the processes that push applications through the app deployment pipeline into production. For others, it was really about financial efficiency - the drive to lower capital expenditures. And for yet others it was about efficient use of time - speed - in getting apps to market faster. All had at their root this common theme - efficiency. IT and indeed businesses today are experiencing rapid and sometimes unexpected growth driven by demand for mobile applications and the introduction of things int...
As virtualized and cloud systems are so prevalent and integral to data storage, the need to migrate data from a legacy storage system to a virtual or cloud-based one is inevitable. But, here’s the rub: migrating data is a lot harder than you might think, despite all the marketing noise about smooth transitions, ease-of-use, and turnkey solutions. While the term ‘cloud’ means many things to many people, I believe it refers to a large-scale virtualized data center that has numerous clusters of VMware or other hypervisor host servers connected to a SAN storage farm with petabytes of data.
I just read a new booklet from O’Reilly called The Software Paradox by Stephen O’Grady. You can access it here. Here is a direct quote: “This is the Software Paradox: the most powerful disruptor we have ever seen and the creator of multibillion-dollar net new markets is being commercially devalued, daily. Just as the technology industry was firmly convinced in 1981 that the money was in hardware, not software, the industry today is largely built on the assumption that the real revenue is in software. The evidence, however, suggests that software is less valuable—in the commercial sense—than ...
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Past SYS-CON Events
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

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PwC

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Oracle

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AWS

Varia
AWS

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Oracle

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AppZero

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RightScale

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NYT

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Oracle

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