Power Outage Takes Down AWS, Netflix & Pinterest

by | July 2, 2012

Why should you load test a cloud application? Easy: To test the failover function of your cloud provider.

A few organizations and websites learned this lesson the hard way this weekend when a power outage in Northern Virginia took down Amazon Web Services’ East Coast hub. Popular sites such as Pinterest and Netflix were among the victims of the outage, experiencing hard web outages that lasted several hours on Friday and residual slowness and load delays that lasted through the weekend.

The cloud offers many benefits — agility, elasticity, reduced costs, etc. But one of those — the ability to house data and run systems off-site — could lead to complacency and neglect. It’s important to remember: Just because you can’t see the cloud doesn’t mean you should forget to implement the basics — like failover and scaling. These steps will help ensure optimal performance for you and your customers.

In this case, load testing to confirm failover between the hosting center and availability zones could have helped these sites avoid problems when the storm took down the cloud.