Bezos Says He Wants S3 Uptime to Be Nothing Less Than Perfection. (Yeah, Work On That).

When cloud-computing services like Amazon’s S3 go down, as it did again this weekend, it raises the question of whether they are ready for prime time. If these services keep going down, can startups rely on them enough to build their businesses on top of them? At Fortune’s Brainstorm conference in Half Moon Bay today, in response to a question from the audience, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that the company takes reliability and uptime very seriously, and knows that it will be the basis of competition in this budding industry. He said:

I think we are at the dawn of what will be an important industry. Important industries are rarely built by one company. Companies that can demonstrate high-availability track records will have bigger parts of this market. Market mechanisms will push companies to reliability.

When we have an outage like yesterday, we see that as a crucial driver. We won’t be satisfied until we have uptimes and availabilities that are statistically indistinguishable from perfection.

When we have a problem, we know the proximate cause, we analyze from there and find the root cause, we will find the root fix and move forward.

Perfection is not necessary. Amazon’s S3 customers would probably be happy with just more redundancy so that they don’t have to suffer eight-hour outages. Amazon will no doubt get a pass as it learns how to scale these services, but how long will that goodwill last? There are other alternatives out there, with more coming on every day, even if they are not as well known.

(On a different subject, when talking about the Kindle, he had a nice quote about the importance of devices becoming invisible:

We had a microwave oven that would beep every minute until I turned it off. I called it a self-important device.

This is a favorite theme of his, but it is a good design principle. He didn’t mention anything about the next-generation Kindle though).