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Cloud Computing Service Outages in 2011

Service Disruptions - It Can Happen To The Best

By

Over the past few months, we have seen premier cloud computing service providers suffer major outages. This could have a profound impact on smaller organizations as they plan to move forward with cloud computing. The events of the past few months will serve as a wake up call that every system is subject to service disruptions.

Playstation Network

Date Outage Began: 4/21/2011
Company: Sony
Length of Outage: 25 days
Users Impacted: 75,000,000

What Happened?
Between April 17th and April 19th, Sony Playstation and Qriocity user accounts were compromised from an unauthorized intrusion into the Playstation network. As a result, Sony has temporarily shut down the Playstation and Qriocity Services.

Amazon Web Services

Date Outage Began: 4/21/2011
Company: Amazon.com
Length of Outage: 4 Days
Users Impacted:
Millions and Millions

What Happened?
There were two services involved in this outage, Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS Service. The EC2 issues surrounded the Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes in their Ashburn data center in Northern Virginia which powers one of Amazon's "Availability Zone". The volumes became "stuck" (there are Amazon's words). EC2 instances that tried to use the affected volumes would get "stuck". This situation also impacted the Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS). This services is used by EC2 for database and log storage.

Twitter Service

Date Started: 2/25/2011; 3/16/2011; 3/25/2011; 3/27/2011
Company: Twitter
Length of Outage: Between 1 and 4 hours per outage
Users Impacted:
Hundreds of thousands

What Happened?
Twitter was experiencing significant delays in delivering messages to SMS and Facebook. The problem was said to be over-capacity. Some suggested movement to the new data center may have been part of the cause.

Gmail and Google Apps

Date Started:2/27/2011
Company: Google
Length of Outage: 2 days
Users Impacted:
120,000

What Happened?
Some users of Gmail and Google Apps experienced login errors and empty mailboxes. This was caused by a bug in one of Google's updates. They ultimately restored the affected accounts from tape backup.

Netflix Streaming Service

Date Started: 3/22/2011
Company: Netflix
Length of Outage: 4 to 8 hours depending on who you ask
Users Impacted:
20,000,000

What Happened?
Netflix was less than transparent about the outage simply stating that the problem was "a rare technical issue".

Intuit Service and Quickbooks

Date Started: 3/28/2011
Company: Intuit
Length of Outage: 2 days - some users up to 5 days
Users Impacted:
Thousands

What Happened?
The problem was caused by a change to their network configuration which blocked customer access to some of Intuit services including TurboTax Online, QuickBooks Online, Quicken and QuickBase. This occurred during scheduled maintenance.

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