Last week’s Amazon Web Services outage caused a great deal of disruption for many businesses and their customers, and was no doubt of great embarrassment to Amazon.Posted on 07 March 2017 -
But as we wrote in a recent blog post, outages of that kind are an occupational hazard for any web host. For all the preparation, testing and backup plans, sometimes there is no getting round performing maintenance, making changes to your infrastructure and generally fixing something that ain’t necessarily broke. In the course of doing so, sometimes it gets broken, even if you’re as big as Amazon.
That’s why the AWS outage was actually more embarrassing for some other web hosts than it was for Amazon. Allow us to explain…
Some businesses found out in the worst possible circumstances during the outage that they are effectively AWS customers. Having signed up for hosting services with what they thought was a standalone web hosting company, they will have discovered that their web host was essentially just a reseller for AWS.
In other words, their own web host was an AWS customer subletting their server space. There is nothing wrong with that business model per se, but it becomes a bit mirky if the host is not making the arrangement clear at the outset and more so if they are deliberately misleading their customers into thinking they have their own hosting infrastructure.
It is those web hosting companies for whom the outage was particularly excruciating because their misdirection or lies were shown to be just that as soon as their customers found themselves hit by the AWS outage.
If you are a customer of a hosting company and didn’t know that they - and therefore you - were actually an AWS customer rather than maintaining their own hardware in-house, then it is time to have a robust conversation with them. Look back at the service you’ve been promised and gauge whether your web host can fulfil those services without having direct access to the server that’s hosting your website. If not, it’s probably time to look elsewhere.
And if your hosting provider is (or at least you thought was) your in-house IT department and you experienced similar problems, investigate where the reliance on AWS is so that you can mitigate against future outages. For instance, even companies that are not hosted on AWS in the strictest sense discovered that some of their key business operations were tied to Amazon through third-party apps and software that are reliant on AWS as soon as the outage hit.