Amazon storage 'cloud' service goes dark, ruffles Web 2.0 feathers

Some Web 2.0 start-ups get cranky after Amazon.com's Simple Storage Service goes offline for a few hours.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read

Amazon.com Web Service's hosted storage service went down Friday morning, frustrating many Web site customers and refreshing concerns with the ballyhooed approach of cloud computing.

An online forum spiked with customer complaints Friday morning as some people found that content stored on Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) was unavailable or performed slowly.

The service was restored a few hours later, according to an Amazon technician. The first forum posting was timed at 5 a.m. PT, and the service was back up at just past 9 a.m.

Glitch hits Amazon Simple Storage Service. Amazon

The glitch sent a ripple through the blogosphere as Web entrepreneurs, who are increasingly using Amazon's hosted computing services, pondered whether they needed a back-up plan or a more traditional hosting provider.

On the forum, some people complained about how the service glitch essentially put them out of business temporarily.

"My new sites hosts over 25,000 images on Amazon and I wake up to notice major issues this morning," wrote one customer. "The S3 service is great but this just proves you can't rely on it, this is a major issue especially since it's been down for so long."

That particular Web site operator managed to put an in-house back-up system online, a job which should be automated, according to the forum posting.

This isn't the first time Amazon has run into problems keeping its computing services running without fail.

But since launching the services, Amazon has aggressively wooed Web 2.0 start-ups as customers, many of which operate on the back of Amazon's computing infrastructure.

Photo-sharing site SmugMug, for example, said it has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by unplugging its servers and storage gear and using Amazon's per-usage services.

Amazon said it will try to provide more technical detail on the problem, once it has been fully resolved.

John Anderson, co-founder of greeting card site SquidNote, said his customers were greeted with empty cards this morning and immediately started contacting the company. He said SquidNote's brand took a hit from the outage.

"Perhaps if AWS (Amazon Web Services) gets huge, these outages will more transparently reflect on their brand too. It might get easier for us to say, 'Hey, it's Amazon's fault...just go look at Twitter and all these other sites...see, they're down too,'" he said. "Until then, however, we just need to accept that using AWS involves a real risk to our own brand."

In another case, voting application provider PollDaddy was knocked offline for two or three hours today, which had a material impact on the company. (Disclosure: Webware will be using the Web site for its Webware 100 voting).

PollDaddy CEO David Lenehan was disappointed because S3 was pitched as bullet-proof. When the company's own servers had problems before they went to S3, the site was typically only down for a short time.

The bill from S3 won't be that much money--$4,000-$5,000--but Lenehan's confidence has been shaken. "We could get a couple of high-end servers ourselves for that," he said.

--with additional reporting from Webware.com's Rafe Needleman.