Amazon S3 outage hurts web service companies most

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Amazon’s S3 was down on Sunday.  This probably didn’t warrant a mention in your local paper, but if you were trying to use your favorite web service it might have caused a problem.  37Signals, Smartsheet, Smugmug and I am sure dozens of other web services rely on S3 web services platform.  It is great!  Outsource your server and storage infrastructure to a “IaaS” (Infrastructure as a Service) vendor.  This makes the cost of entry to starting a SaaS business less expensive and less complicated.  You can avoid designing an infrastructure, purchasing hardware or getting a hosting company for that part of the business.  I’d do the same.

Unfortunately you have to trust your vendor.  Can they build a better infrastructure than you can.  Google didn’t think so, so they have cheap hardware and GFS.  When you face these sorts of outages, what do your customers say?  Salesforce.com suffered a few hiccups like this in 2006, and introduces a website to inform customers of system status, uptime and planned downtime.

So how do smaller/newer vendors relieve wary customers, manage to have reliable services and grow inexpensively?  Is it better to build or buy?  Do you need to do both?  I think a lot of people are questioning that right now, how do you build a better business continuity plan?  Channel Insider is mentioning a new business opportunity for service providers to protect against cloud storage outages.

Outages like these are minor inconveniences if your photo uploading site is down, or you can’t update your Social Network, but if your business is relying on these services for critical functions how do you cope?

My tips (from personal experience)

  • Keep an offline copy of critical info (if you use on online project management tool, export your projects once per week so you can refer to it offline)
  • For CRM systems, keep your critical contacts in your address book (just in case)
  • For email services, set up you email client on your computer to send/receive messages

Does anyone have other suggestions?

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