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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 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.
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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.

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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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@CloudExpo Blogs
With the advent of micro-services, the application design paradigm has undergone a major shift. The days of developing monolithic applications are over. We are bringing in the principles (read SOA) hereto the preserve of applications or system integration space into the application development world. Since the micro-services are consumed within the application, the need of ESB is not there. There is no message transformation or mediations required. But service discovery and load balancing of service instance still need to be done, new tools have come up (e.g. Netflix Eureka) There is no ...
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The IoT Bootcamp is coming to Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo on June 9-10 at the Javits Center in New York. Instructor. Registration is now available at http://iotbootcamp.sys-con.com/ Instructor Janakiram MSV previously taught the famously successful Multi-Cloud Bootcamp at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in November in Santa Clara. Now he is expanding the focus to Janakiram is the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquired by Aditi Technologies. He is a Microsoft Regional Director for Hyderabad, India, and one of the f...
Disruption in the communications ecosystem is creating a market opportunity for Cloud Real-Time Communications (RTC) platforms. We expect this market to represent a $4.5 billion opportunity by 2018. Cloud RTC Platforms are cloud services that enable mobile and web developers to integrate communications into their applications with just a few lines of code. Via REST APIs and SDKs Cloud RTC Platforms enable developers to easily integrate voice, messaging and video calling into mobile and web applications supporting more contextual conversations. These tools have the potential to change in how we...
The evolution of JavaScript and HTML 5 to support a genuine component based framework (Web Components) with the necessary tools to deliver something close to a native experience including genuine realtime networking (UDP using WebRTC). HTML5 is evolving to offer built in templating support, the ability to watch objects (which will speed up Angular) and Web Components (which offer Angular Directives). The native level support will offer a massive performance boost to frameworks having to fake all these features like Polymer and Angular. It will also encourage people who are not familiar with th...
Log data provides the most granular view into what is happening across your systems, applications, and end users. Logs can show you where the issues are in real-time, and provide a historical trending view over time. Logs give you the whole picture. Today, everything must be faster. Faster releases; faster and larger backlogs; faster complaints; faster bugs. The speed and performance of the modern software delivery pipeline brings a new set of challenges. How do you keep up? There really is only one option - automation and measurement. You need a method for automatically collecting data abou...
Even though Apple and Microsoft haven’t commented on the new open source technology which delivers high quality audio and video capabilities to desktop and mobile browsers, major carriers such as AT&T and Telefónica, leading infrastructure providers like Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson and new WebRTC application providers in likes of Teledini and NetDev are driving the technology forward. Research analyst, Sabir Rafiq comments, “WebRTC brings many opportunities; ABI Research believes major trends will start to form within the enterprise market with WebRTC. Companies will be willing to implement t...
2015 is the 10th birthday of Ruby on Rails (or simply called Rails), the popular open source web application framework that uses the Ruby programming language. Ever since Rails burst on the scene a decade ago it has continued to scale up as an elegant way to build dynamic websites quickly and efficiently. Rails has garnered a strong following, especially among tech startups. In fact, some of the best known firms out there are using the framework to build their sites. Examples of elegant sites built on Rails are Groupon, Airbnb, and Bloomberg.
iot clipping”Things” and the applications/services that support them are changing the way we live. Wearables in the sports and health sectors will grow to nearly 170 million devices by 2017 — an annual growth rate of 41 percent. Specific to the enterprise, if you thought the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) craze was a headache, just wait until button cameras, smart watches, fitness trackers, and connected glasses are a daily occurrence in the office. Workplace wearables will be a huge challenge in the coming years as more devices, clothing and pretty much any ‘thing’ with a chip or sensor become ...
Ariba today announced innovations to its cloud-based applications and global business network designed to deliver a personal, contextual and increasingly mobile-first user experience for business applications consumers. Among the announcements are a newly designed user interface (UI) and a mobile app based on the SAP Fiori approach, both due to be available this summer, for Ariba's core procurement, spend management, and other line of business apps. Ariba, an SAP company, made the announcements here at the Ariba LIVE conference in Las Vegas. "This gives us a cleaner approach, more tiles, and...
For most C-level executives (and most of the rest of the planet too), the concept of ‘risk’ is generally first perceived as a negative. The notion of risk as a business positive (or a ‘business enabler’ even) is fanciful, flaky and fraught with fallibility – isn’t it? This proposition is not as feeble as it sounds and there are a number of reasons why this is so. First, let’s be essentially mathematical about this for a minute. If John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, Adam Smith or (insert your favorite economics guru here) have taught us anything, it is that business should be about measure...
You would have to be living under a rock not to notice that everything’s going to the clouds, not the dogs. The cloud industry has continued to demonstrate its “sky-high” potential as intellectual property (IP) rights are becoming important in preserving competitive edges, and sky is the only limit. Is it? While intellectual property rights remain important to protect many hard-earned innovations, the news from the patent lawyers has not been as cheery. The Supreme Court’s June 2014 decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank and its aftershocks rocked the tech community with the fear of declaring p...
Community is an area of great interest to me. As the evangelist for VictorOps, I’m tapped with many challenges and responsibilities. Not only do I try to provide useful guidance and feedback regarding VictorOps and DevOps best practices, but also bring together customers and partners with shared interest and excitement for what we are building to make on-call suck less. If there is a group in which one could model how to build a great community after, it’s Chef and this year’s ChefConf is a testament to that.
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Past SYS-CON Events
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cloudcomputingexpo
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    Cloud Expo West
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2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
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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
 


 
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  –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