Big Storage 'Clouds' Much Less Manageable

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-07-21 Print this article Print

Scaling up a cloud storage service is hard to do. As an alternative, enterprises can look for smaller storage service providers or even build their own custom clouds.

People are talking about the Amazon S3 fiasco of the evening of July 20 and what the long- and short-term implications of this breakdown might be for this popular storage service.'s Amazon Simple Storage Service was beset by unexplained outages for anywhere from 2 to 6 hours Sunday night.

Users of Amazon S3 and Amazon Simple Queue Service in Europe and the United States were out for various windows of time. It was a lucky break that wasn't a high-transaction business day here in the United States, or it might have elicited a great many more complaints.

eWEEK's Michael Hickins was one of the first to blog on this subject. Here is's own report.

These online storage services are like electricity or water supplies: When there's an outage, there's nothing a consumer or enterprise can do about it, and all activity comes to a dead halt. A growing number of businesses now depend fully on the Amazon S3 service to store data and to run applications.

The outage, like a similar one at in February 2008 and a big one that hit the 365 Main co-location center in San Francisco in July 2007 that knocked Craigslist, RedEnvelope and Charles Schwab off the Web for several hours, bruises the trust that enterprises place in these companies' services. None of those customers left 365 Main, however, because the co-location center came clean with an explanation of what happened the very next day.

365 Main's backup generators didn't function as they were supposed to after a transformer explosion cut off power to the downtown San Francisco data center. 365 Main has made major upgrades to its system as a result and has not had even a minor outage in the past 12 months.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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