Amazon's 7 Cloud Promises: Hype Vs. Reality
May 01, 2012 09:05 AM Amazon says cloud computing is an indispensable enabler of seven important computing transformations. We hype-test the promises with a few reality checks.
Reality Check #1: Complexity Doesn't Go Away
Amazon does a lot to shield its customers from the complexity of creating their own highly distributed systems on AWS infrastructure, but Amazon itself can't internally avoid complexity or the certainty that systems fail. Despite its global scale and many redundancies, Amazon has a less-than-perfect record of keeping its systems up and running.
Amazon suffered two significant outages in 2011 alone, with one multi-day incident in April that took out services on the U.S. East Coast, and another multi-day incident in August that impacted multiple availability zones in Europe after power was lost and backup generators failed at Amazon's data center in Dublin, Ireland. The biggest concern in the August incident was that a problem in one Availability Zone ended up taking out another Zone. That's not supposed to happen if you have a highly distributed, fault-tolerant architecture.
Game site Zynga, which relies heavily on AWS, avoided disruption during these outages because it also has its own private-cloud capacity, further distributing and adding separation and redundancy to its available compute capacity. Zynga also determined it was better to own than rent, so it has flipped from 80% dependence on AWS to 20% dependence, with public-cloud usage focused on scaling up new games before taking them in house.