August has been rife with network outages from some of the biggest names in tech, with Amazon Web Services’ August 25 outage as the latest in the group of blackouts that cost businesses money, enrage consumers, and remind users of just how dependent they are on digital services.
As Amazon Web Services went out on the 25th, highly popular websites and applications such as home-sharing site AirBnB, photo-sharing network Instagram, and mobile video service Vine all went down. Disabling users from watching streaming video or sharing photographs is not life-threatening, but considering Amazon is the world’s largest cloud-computing supplier, and considering Instagram has over 100 million users, the ramifications mean more for those who run businesses with data stored in Amazon’s cloud and cater to these online-only customers.
Amazon’s network was only down for about one hour, but 60 minutes is enough time to get digital businesses worried — most of whom have no brick-and-mortar services to fall back on. Reports estimate that an Amazon blackout costs the company itself an approximate $1,100 per minute in net sales off its retail services, not to mention the sales lost on other websites that run using Amazon’s cloud. A blackout from a service as large as Amazon’s reinvigorates fear around cloud computing’s reliability, i.e. the benefits of paying for Amazon’s cloud hosting versus the risk of its blackout effect on a business — an apprehension that reared its head the week prior to Amazon’s outage when Google’s services went down.
In contrast to Amazon’s one-hour outage, Google’s four-minute blackout on August 16 cost the company a reported $108,000 per minute. Web analytics company GoSquared reported that the outage caused global internet traffic to plunge 40%. The bigger you are, the harder you fall.
Amazon’s and Google’s outages joined Microsoft’s three-day outage earlier in August, the New York Times’ blackout for an afternoon, and August 23rd’s Nasdaq outage that halted trading. At the tail end of a rough month for worldwide tech network uptime, we are made more aware of both the enterprise’s and the consumer’s dependence on widespread, deeply entrenched web services like Amazon and Google for work and play.