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Amazon Web Services Crash Sends Australia into Meltdown

Enterprises across Australia are having to rethink their strategies of cloud backups. This comes following a crash of the Amazon cloud in Sydney, sending the economy into temporary meltdown.

At the start of this month, the AWS (Amazon Web Services) went down in Sydney, leaving people and businesses in Australia without access to their files for up to 10 hours. The outage was caused by a storm in the area. What this event showed not just Australia, but the entire world, was that even the cloud can be vulnerable, and that people have to be aware of this and make business continuity plans, particularly when they store mission critical applications on the cloud.

The AWS failure was significant, because it is used by Fruit Ninja, the popular consumer game, Brandscreen, an ad trading platform, MYOB, an accounting software business, and even the Commonwealth Bank. While it may have been frustrating for Fruit Ninja players, the issue was a lot more serious for the other organizations and really showed that they must have continuity planning in place.

According to UK based IT services company NexusOS.co.uk, it is now time for businesses to become more aware of this, and to stop placing all their faith in the cloud. During the Australian storm, the entire cloud was down for a full two hours, and this caused a knock-effect for other services, such as Cloud Formation, Storage Gateway, and more. It took a full 10 hours to have the whole problem resolved, which is a considerable amount of time.

Within five days, AWS released a report and explained that the substation that powered the data center broke during the storm, which meant that their power supply, said to be uninterruptible, failed completely. While power was restored quite quickly, a software bug then appeared making recovery a lot slower than was anticipated. AWS has officially apologized and are now looking at ways to improve provision.

A representative from Nexus OS says: “This event was quite catastrophic. While some people were able to still access their applications, others could literally do nothing anymore. We must stress that people have backup provision and contingency plans in place, because a power outage like this one has the potential to be disastrous. In fact, it was.”

It seems that a lot of companies take what is known as an ‘ostrich approach’ to the continuity of the cloud. They expect that cloud suppliers offer 100% uptime, which is simply not the case. Those who start to use the cloud without realizing this are setting themselves up for failure.

Most IT departments do have continuity plans in place for their in-house services, but they seem to be lacking this in terms of the cloud. This is also usually because the cloud doesn’t belong to the IT department or even business as a whole, meaning there is an expectation that issues are resolved as well.

The Nexus OS representative added: “Cloud computing is now absolutely necessary in most businesses. It is used by businesses and individuals alike, sometimes very well and other times very poorly. Cloud has a very important role to play in today’s business world, but it should not be seen as the be all and end all of an organization.”

“Businesses also need to think about what the consequences would be if something does go wrong. Sometimes, the problem only requires a user to reload the program, which is not a big deal. But if we’re talking about medical programs, for instance, which have to make life or death decisions on the spot, then downtime could literally stop someone from continuing to live their life.”