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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
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
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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.
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 ...
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...
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.
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