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Network, online & power outages

Sunday 24th April 2011
Amazon Cloud: Courtesy:news.cnet.com

The Easter break has come as cloud, online and power services globally were all hit by outages raising a host of questions that may well take their time to reach a resolution.

Amazon’s trouble [now extended to three days+?] raises cloud computing doubts queried New York Times, and Smothers Web 2 darlings, headlined The Register.

Which has allowed the outage of Sony's PlayStation Network also down before the weekend, to dodge the hot seat with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) informing Electronic Theatre, they would use down-time to implement security to the online gaming service.

Another style of outage also passed almost unnoticed by the West as Pakistan had to go without electricity for up to 16 hours on Friday following power shut-offs and outages due to a 5,000MW shortfall according to Sify reports.

Amazon's servers in northern Virginia were apparently those that had the outages, and 12 hours later all but one zone in the US was reported restored.

Customers sized like Eli Lilly &Co, Pfizer and Netflix pay for redundant cloud architecture, thus insuring against technical malfunctions in any one location. But smaller organisations such as Web 2 startups, find this too expensive have been severely affected.

Venture Beat says sites such as Zynga, Twitter, Reddit Foursquare, Quor, and BigDoor have all suffered consider loss as users turn elsewhere for social media needs.

The problems companies have reported varied, but included being unable to access data, service interruptions and sites being shut down.

And the most interesting is that Amazon has been very tight-lipped about the cause, saying that matters  are improving but still not resolve.

For both Amazon and PlayStation users, a real annoyance factor has focused around a total lack of any official explanation, or a health monitor on the status of the services, and official information posting.

NYT quotes Lew Moorman,(right) chief strategy officer of  Rackspace, a specialist in data center services, saying the incident was the computing equivalent of an airplane crash.

It is a major episode with widespread damage. But airline travel, he noted, is still safer than traveling in a car — analogous to cloud computing being safer than data centers run by individual companies.

“Every day, inside companies all over the world, there are technology outages,” Moorman said. “Each episode is smaller, but they add up to far more lost time, money and business.”

The Amazon setback, he said, should prove to be a learning experience. “We all have an interest in Amazon handling this well,” he said.

Major US rivals to Amazon’s service include Microsoft Corp and Rackspace Hosting Inc.

"Of course, the cloud is all about virtualising and balancing workloads, ensuring redundancy and making sure problems in one place don't bring the whole network down," writes The Register, which concludes "it will be fascinating to hear Amazon explain how problems at one of its data centres has completely floored a number of its big name customers."

It carries one more line. A month's free trial on Rackspace Cloud Hosting during April, just Quote FREE1

Try power outage
But if Cloud and Online players are hard done by, spare a thought for Pakistan Pakistan which had to go without electricity for up to 16 hours on Friday following power shut-offs and outages due to a shortfall of over 5,000 MW

Daily Dawn reported on Saturday that the electricity shortfall shot up by 50% because of increase in demand  forcing 16 hours of loadshedding.The Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) said it was facing a shortfall of 5,010 MW, with the demand at 14,475 MW.

Officials said a reduced supply of oil and gas, shortage of money to buy oil and a drop in water releases from the two major dams were the main factors leading to this 'disastrous situation'.

They said that their own units were not working properly half of them facing outage lacking of proper maintenance and the rest were not getting oil. The situation could worsen over the next few days as weather was getting hotter.

'Once air-conditioners are switched on throughout the country, which Pepco is expecting in a week's time, it will add about 5,000MW to the demand, and things can go haywire then,' he said.
 

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