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What the AWS Outage Means for Partners

Cloud data center

James AndersonThe high-scale disruption caused by a multiple-hour Amazon Web Services (AWS) system outage shows just how many businesses rely upon AWS and the public cloud.

Amazon Simple Service Storage, otherwise known as Amazon S3, suffered what the company called an “error rate issue” on Tuesday. Most reports say the downtime lasted four hours, with others suggest it lasted 11. AWS on Wednesday said it had resolved the problem.

Business Insider wrote that 54 of the top Internet retailers suffered lost revenue from the downtime. The online publication Mashable ironically noted that the outage prevented it from publishing its story about AWS.

What implications does this have for AWS, public cloud and the partners that interact with them?

Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst at The 2112 Group, said service outages like S3’s reflect more on the company’s brand than the actual platform.{ad}

“In the cloud computing era, partners and customers can expect 2 to 9 hours of services disruptions a year,” Walsh told Channel Partners. “It’s incumbent for vendors using a third-party platform such as Amazon Web Services to evaluate the support and responsiveness as well as the technical architecture to ensure they align with the minimum SLA requirements in their agreements with partners.”

As pundits analyze Amazon’s stock and the public cloud market, the solution providers that bridge end users to AWS should take time to consider how they can improve customer experience.

“In these situations there are indeed ways in which resellers can help their customers achieve true ‘IT resilience,’ the ability to respond to an IT disruption so quickly that end users are not aware that a disruption ever occurred,” said Mariah West, director of global partner marketing for Zerto.

She suggests a combination of tactics, which include building multiple recovery sites, using more clouds than just those within the same infrastructure, and operating in a hybrid environment. Using multiples keeps the entire environment from going down, she said.

Eric Berry, vice president of global channels for Tintri, says companies that rely on the cloud should diversify just as investors diversify their stocks.

“The S3 outage is a cautionary tale for resellers on the risks of putting all their customers’ eggs into one cart or cloud. Moreover, it’s difficult for VARs to engineer even cloud-native applications for public cloud SLAs as seen by these events,” Berry said. “It’s even more complex to …

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… deploy and manage enterprise applications that weren’t designed for the cloud to begin with. If nothing else, the S3 outages will cause some channel partners to reconsider a diversified environment for their customers – that includes enterprise cloud – to reduce their risks.”

As much as Tuesday’s news is a cautionary tale for partners and their customers, it speaks to the massive influence of AWS.

Steve Chu, director of TeraNova Consulting Group, had nothing but praise for the AWS platform, saying that he had cut his startup’s infrastructure budget by 75 percent as a result of using AWS.

“Many companies have built out their web infrastructure around Amazon’s web services, which in the past would have cost millions when done in a traditional data center. Thus, when Amazon skips a heartbeat, everyone gets a heart attack,” Chu said.  


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