Amazon Web Services Gets Another Hiccup

amaxon-web-services-logo.pngAmazon’s Web Services experienced another hiccup today. Early this morning, its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) went down for about an hour for at least some customers in the U.S. This follows a major outage of its S3 storage service in February. Companies big and small use EC2 as a virtual data center to run jobs on Amazon’s computers. Customers began reporting problems on the EC2 developer forum at 1:51 AM PT. The problem seemed to be resolved about an hour and a half later.

Amazon does not guarantee 100 percent uptime for its Web Services, although it does strive to achieve that. And data centers go down all the time, no matter who is hosting your data. But more and more companies are relying on Amazon to be able to scale their computing resources on demand and do it cheaply by paying only for what they need. Many Web startups are building their entire businesses on top of Amazon’s Web Services, and even an hour of unavailability is unacceptable. At least this one happened during the middle of the night.

The outage is a reminder that, as Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said last week after a speech he gave about uncertainty, “Everything fails all the time.” And it comes on the eve of what could be Google’s entry into the on-demand computing infrastructure business with the expected announcement of its BigTable cloud database service tonight. As big tech companies such as Amazon, Google, IBM, and others start to compete around web services, reliability will be one of the main features they will compete around. (The other one will be price).