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Amazon Outage: Implications For Cloud DAM?

by Naresh Sarwan on April 27, 2011

As most readers will be aware, last week Amazon’s AWS Cloud service had a major outage that affected a number of popular websites and services.  There has been no shortage of comment from the mainstream media, websites and blogs.  A number of DAM vendors (both pure play Cloud offerings and those with SaaS options) depend on the Amazon Cloud or other providers.  This has the potential to create trust implications for services such as Digital Asset Management where storage and asset availability is such as a vital element.  One key fact to emerge is those that failed to spend on multiple availability zones are the ones to have suffered most from the outage.  Dean Takahashi writing on observes:

The good thing about the cloud is that it protects users when their own home computers crash and lose data. But the rotten part about the crash of the cloud is that millions upon millions of users become helpless, and any recovery of the data is beyond their control. Some sites spend the money to run mirror sites on other cloud vendors, so the sites can remain functional even if one cloud vendor goes down. But that’s an expensive measure that many web sites haven’t taken…Corporations will have to decide what computer operations to put on a cloud operated by external vendors and how much they should keep inside their own internal data centers. They will also have to figure out the right policies for backup and recovery services. And they will have to decide whether to allocate more money to backup data centers in multiple locations..” [Read More]

While the outages are recoverable, it is more the negative PR  for Cloud providers and the perception of many that services like AWS are immune from downtime.  Robert Mahowald, an analyst with IDC is quoted as saying the following in this article:

Amazon is held as a paradigm of operational uptime, when this kind of thing happens, it definitely sends a chill through the whole cloud and hosted services industry…. It’s absolutely a black eye. There’s no doubt about it. This shouldn’t give Amazon a bad reputation, but this is a very, very visible problem. I don’t think it will turn people’s heads away from using Amazon, but it will give companies that have been on the fence a lot of cause for pause. This will live on and on on the Web.” [Read More]

Patrick Corrigan on notes how it is prudent to store independent backups of your data even if your Cloud provider promises to keep data secure:

If you are storing data in the cloud make sure you have backups. Even if your cloud service provider promises to keep your data safe, you are the one paying the price if it is lost. In fact, if you look at your service agreement with your cloud service provider you will probably see phrases such as ‘best efforts’ when it comes to protecting your data.” [Read More]

For prospective DAM users, this may not have much lasting impact as the Cloud has momentum and the outage has (finally) been resolved, however, one would expect far greater scrutiny of which suppliers a Cloud DAM vendor uses and whether they employ multiple reliability zones, different providers etc. and we would anticipate many enterprises to start requesting independent backups that they can store.  These will certainly reduce the short-term ROI of Cloud DAM but perhaps to a more realistic and sustainable level.

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