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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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@CloudExpo Blogs
“Solr or Elasticsearch?”…well, at least that is the common question I hear from Sematext’s consulting services clients and prospects. Which one is better, Solr or Elasticsearch? Which one is faster? Which one scales better? Which one can do X, and Y, and Z? Which one is easier to manage? Which one should we use? Which one do you recommend? etc., etc. These are all great questions, though not always with clear and definite, universally applicable answers. So which one do we recommend you use? How do you choose in the end? Well, let me share how I see Solr and Elasticsearch past, pres...
Apache Drill is an open source, schema-free SQL query engine—that enables a business to extract the most value possible from data stored in Hadoop. Apache Drill does this by breaking down many of the technical barriers that had restricted the ways that analysts could work with data, and limited the intelligence that they could glean from it. With Apache Drill, data scientists are no longer constrained by the limitations of last generation tools, and they are free to work with data in a myriad of productive ways without draining IT resources.
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As the pace of development and business continues to scale, teams need an agile and collaborative work environment to succeed. Moving to a DevOps model is a critical part of setting your engineering teams up to succeed, but making the transition can be challenging for many companies. DevOps is a movement in the software world that focuses on collaboration between developers and operations, customer empathy and infrastructure automation. In traditional models, developers write code and then hand it to operations teams to deploy and and run in a production environment. This often leads to a la...
With Dell’s acquisition of Quest and all the IT reorganization that followed, it is actually not that easy to find these two popular free PowerShell tools any longer. So here are the links that work today (January 30, 2015)
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If you're part of the decision making process in how to get started with Big Data then you've probably already discovered that open source Apache Hadoop has a big lead. You also know that unless you've got a particularly deep NoSQL team or want to write your own proprietary code that the free open source version of Hadoop is not for the great majority of businesses. You want the benefits of open source but with some support and some capabilities that tie the open source components together in an enterprise quality database system. You want a Hadoop Distribution.
In Part I of this blog I explained which metrics on the Web Server, App Server and Host allow me to figure out how healthy the system and application environment is: Busy vs. Idle Threads, Throughput, CPU, Memory, etc. In Part 2, I focus on the set of metrics captured from within the application server (#Exceptions, Errors, etc.) as well as the interaction with the database (connection pools, roundtrips to database, amount of data loaded, etc.). Most of the screenshots shown in this blog comes from real performance data shared from our Dynatrace Free Trial users that leveraged my Share Your P...
AWS was in the premier position having had a head start of more than 4 years in the cloud related business. The lowering of prices by Microsoft; a new CEO; an emphasized bet on the cloud have all contributed to Microsoft Azure's adoption by the enterprises. One of the reasons for this being the better tooling; the variety of applications and services; and not-for-Windows only shift have all contributed. Microsoft brought in a lot of enhancements that should prove this advantage Microsoft has gained further. The storage options with SSDs and the rapid, multifaceted updates to its Azure cloud...
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Recently, Forrester analyst Rick Holland brought up the point of quality vs. quantity when it comes to threat indicators. We agree, the focus should never be on the quantity of data, it should be on the quality of data. So the question becomes, where and how can you gather or make sense of this quality threat intelligence?
There’s no denying we’re in the midst of a cloud craze – but, behind all the hype, is cloud adoption really imperative? How much of the cloud buzz is fabrications of possible benefits, and how much of it is reality? To decipher what’s true and what’s false, I’ve put together a list of five reasons why cloud adoption is important, based on the facts. Freedom from responsibility and costs. Yes, when you move services to a cloud provider, you immediately relinquish some control. However, you instantly free yourself from the cost of hardware and server management, and gain back the time (or manpo...
Cloud-based document storage has become surprisingly inexpensive over the years, with some providers offering storage for less than one cent per terrabyte, and in many cases free accounts with 10 or 20 Gigs of storage space on the cloud. I would agree that free storage is actually convenient when it comes to being able to upload documents, data, files photos and a bunch of other stuff to the cloud and downloading it where you want, when you want. Things are looking pretty positive for the consumer. Life is good!
As we enter 2015, it is time to dust off the crystal ball once again for our annual predictions forecast. The parade of new technology innovations and breakthroughs is unfolding across many fronts. In some cases the convergence of technologies themselves provides the breakthrough. The cloud, Internet of Things, mobile platforms, social media, Big Data and analytics, vertical-specific marketplaces and even wearables all have a part to play to transform industry and society and shape the new global economy.
"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.
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