Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been in the news quite a bit in November and December 2021, and not for the reasons that any business wants to be in the news. AWS experienced multiple disruptions to its cloud infrastructure services, causing some of the largest websites and services to go down.
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Big names like 1Password, Coinbase, RadioLab, Anchor, The Washington Post, DataCamp, Getaround, Glassdoor, Flickr, iRobot, Pocket, Roku, RSS Podcasting, Autodesk, and Vonage all experienced issues in November 2021 (via The edge). Services such as Snapchat, Zoom, Apex Legends, Crunchyroll, USPS, Ring, Starbucks, Intuit Quickbooks, Slack, Netflix, PlayStation Network, Clash Royale, Twitch, DoorDash, and EA services for EA games experienced outages of several hours in December. from 2021 (via Data center dynamics). At the time of the outage, DownDetector showed that McDonald’s, Coinbase, and many other services were equally affected.
In the wake of the outages, some experts are calling for greater confidence in a multicloud future (via CNBC), but it’s important to understand why an AWS outage affected the internet so badly.
How and why the AWS outage affected so many
AWS is currently the world’s leading cloud infrastructure provider, with a 32% market share. Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud rank second and third, with 21% and 8% of the market respectively (via Statista). As a result, these three companies control 61% of the total cloud market.
Businesses large and small rely on cloud providers for their online infrastructure. For example, as an online service provider like Netflix, Flickr, or 1Password expands its presence, you can build your own server farm on premises or you can lease computing resources from a cloud provider.
Relying on a cloud provider is often much cheaper and gives businesses the ability to react to changes in the market almost instantly. As a business grows or adds additional services, it simply requests more resources from its cloud provider, rather than purchasing, installing, configuring, and integrating hardware on its own.
Unfortunately, this reliance on cloud providers also means there are concentrated points of failure. With AWS controlling 32% of the market, a massive AWS outage could theoretically affect 32% of online sites and services.
That discovery, along with recent evidence of AWS fallibility, is prompting companies to seek multi-cloud solutions. In other words, rather than relying on a single cloud provider, companies are looking to spread their workloads across two or more providers, providing additional redundancy if something goes wrong with any one of them.