3 lessons you can take away from Amazon’s outage

If webpages were loading slowly for you or not at all yesterday, you’re not alone. An outage at Amazon Web Services threw many organizations into chaos. Here’s why it matters, and what you can do to prepare. 

The outage affected all manner of sites and applications from large to small. And while Amazon hasn’t said yet what caused it, any reason will likely be frustrating for the businesses and organizations affected by the nearly four-hour-long outage.

Web services or otherwise, downtime has the ability to bring a company to its knees and harm their bottom lines and their reputations.

And with so many companies relying on web applications rather than in-house services, these outages can seriously hamper productivity.

Looking back on yesterday’s incident, here are three key takeaways for how you can prepare for outages before starting with a provider:

  1. Disruptions will happen. If the largest provider of web services can be knocked offline, anyone can. And while in the grand scheme of things a few hours of downtime a year may not seem like much, depending when and how it happens, it can be absolutely catastrophic. Make sure you know any provider’s downtime history, including their longest outages and recovery times. It’s information you’d rather have than not.
  2. Ask about scheduled downtime. Some providers will have more frequent scheduled downtime than others. And while you usually get plenty of warning on these events, too much downtime of any kind can be a major disruption.
  3. Tie it to cost. Whenever possible, negotiate contracts that will compensate you for a service’s downtime. Just beware that discounts on service or payments may not be worth the cost when each second of unavailability is causing you headaches and frustration.