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Posts Tagged ‘web services’

Amazon S3: Price reduction

October 13, 2008 6 comments

I know a lot of you get your Amazon Web Services news from me, so I thought I’d better mention this one. It’s huge!! ūüôā

Amazon announced S3 price reductions as you scale. For us, since we’re way beyond 500TB, this is huge. And for any of you who are still in their first tier, it’s something to look forward to. ūüôā

DevPay also got a significant new release, pricing-wise, recently, so if you’re interested in that, better check it out.

Thanks Amazon!

Categories: amazon Tags: , , , ,

New Amazon Features: Status Dashboard & Paid Service

April 17, 2008 10 comments

I realize I’m already way behind blogging about other new Amazon Web Services features like the recent EC2 release with static IPs, availability zones, and user kernels not to mention the new block storage service. ¬†I’ll still try to get to them – but I didn’t want to wait for this one.

I’ve been pushing Amazon hard to do something like this, and I’m thrilled it’s finally out. ¬†They have a great new service status dashboard¬†complete with historical data and a mechanism for communicating to us, their customers, about any issues they may be having. ¬†Especially cool is that the data is provided via RSS, so you can¬†programmatically¬†poll the status and take steps as necessary. ¬†Awesome! ¬†Get all the details here.

One possible gotcha is that it looks like the dashboard is hosted at Amazon. ¬†We’ve run into outages (very rare) where all of amazon.com is down. ¬†In those cases, it’d be nice to have an externally-hosted site where they could post updates. ¬†Our customers asked us for this recently, so on January 29th,¬†we were happy to comply. ¬†Perhaps Amazon could post to their TypePad blog in events like these, rare as they may be?

Next, they now offer paid premium support. ¬†Need some sort of help that’s not provided on the AWS forums or via searching Google? ¬†No worries – whip out your credit card and pay for it. ¬†Looks like they have two plans which should cover lots of use cases I’ve seen in my own comments and on the forums.

I’d still like to see a pay-per-incident model, personally, even with an extremely high¬†price-tag¬†for each incident. ¬†We rarely use support for AWS, but at the same time, we’re very big customers of theirs, so the monthly price is quite high. ¬†But if we really come up against a big problem, it’d be nice to know I could pay for support just that one time. ¬†I imagine most of their customers will like their Silver and Gold monthly ¬†packages, but for us, they’re just not quite the right fit. ¬†Do they work for you?¬†

I’m pretty thrilled about this release, but maybe our use case is different from yours. ¬†Do you like these new features? ¬†Are they missing things you’d like to see?

Thoughts on Google App Engine

April 8, 2008 23 comments

First:  Very cool.

Next: ¬†I think it’s interesting that Google has basically taken a sniper scope out and aimed it at a specific cloud computing target. ¬†App Engine is only for web applications. ¬†No batch computing, no cron jobs, no CPU/disk/network access, etc. ¬†

I think this is very smart of Google. ¬†Rather than attacking Amazon head-on, Google has realized there’s a huge playing field for cloud computing, and are attempting to dominate another portion of it, one where they have a lot of expertise. ¬†Very good business move, imho.

Will we use it? ¬†I wouldn’t be surprised. ¬†I’ve long thought that we’ll continue to mix in web services from a variety of providers, and it looks like App Engine can solve a slice of our datacenter need that other providers don’t yet provide. ¬†

I’m more than a little concerned, though, by how much vendor lock-in there is with App Engine. ¬†At first glance, it doesn’t look like the apps will be portable at all. ¬†If I want to switch providers, or add in other providers so I’m not relying solely on Google, I’m outta luck. ¬†

I’m hopeful other languages get supported, too. ¬†I think Python is great – don’t get me wrong – but we have a lot more experience with other languages, so there’ll be a learning curve.

Finally, I’m dying to find out what pricing for an application of our scale will look like. ¬†I can see some immediate, obvious things I’d like to try to do on App Engine, but the beta limits aren’t gonna cut it for us. ¬†ūüė¶

Will it replace Amazon? ¬†It sure doesn’t look like it from where I sit. ¬†In fact, I don’t see this as much of a competitor to Amazon Web Services. ¬†There’s some overlap in some small area (hosted web apps on EC2), but I doubt that’s the bulk of Amazon’s business. ¬†As I said, we’ll likely end up using both (and other providers as they come along, too).

My favorite bit? ¬†In theory, Google has solved the data scaling problem. ¬†I don’t mean raw binary (blob) storage, which S3, SmugFS, MogileFS, and plenty of other things have solved, but the “database” scaling problem. ¬†Every popular web app runs into this problem, and it’s typically solved with a combination of memcached, federation, and replication. ¬†But it’s messy. ¬†In theory, Google has automated that piece for us. ¬†I can’t wait to play with it and see if that’s true.

I also can’t wait to see who else is going to wade into this fray. ¬†Sun? ¬†Microsoft? ¬†Yahoo? ¬†IBM? ¬†

Bring it on!

S3 outage – We weren't affected

February 15, 2008 68 comments

Amazon S3 had an outage today. First I knew about it was reporters emailing and calling me asking if we were knocked out by it.

We weren’t. No customers reported issues, and our systems were all showing typically low and acceptable error rates. To be honest, I’m surprised.

I wasn’t going to blog about it until I understood why we weren’t affected, but I’m really getting inundated with requests now, so I figured this would be a good way to optimize my time rather than spending all day on the phone. ūüôā

We’re researching what happened now, but again, I didn’t know about the outage until after it was over, and I haven’t spoken to anyone at Amazon yet. Until I finish my research and speak with Amazon, I’m not going to speculate on what may have happened or why.

I can say, once again, that we pay the same rates everyone else pays and that, other than some early access to upcoming beta services, we don’t get any preferential treatment that I’m aware of.

Some thoughts, though:

  • We expect Amazon to have outages. No website I’m aware of doesn’t, whether it’s Google, Amazon, your bank, or SmugMug.
  • I’ve written about Amazon S3 outages in the past, but in the last ~12 months, we’ve only seen a single ~2 minute outage window (on January 22nd, 2008 at around 4:38pm Pacific). We also had one recent fairly major hiccup with EC2.
  • Yes, I believe there will probably be times where SmugMug is seriously affected, possibly even offline completely, because Amazon (or some other web services provider) is having problems. Today wasn’t that day. Nobody likes outages, especially not us, but we’ve decided the tradeoffs are worth it. You should have your eyes wide open when you make the decision to use AWS or any other external service, though. It will fail from time to time.
  • We’ve done our best to build SmugMug in such a way that we handle failures as gracefully as possible. We can’t cover every case, but I think that the fact that we didn’t experience customer-facing outages today is a testament to that. Again, I want to stress that we do expect Amazon to cause us (rare) outages in the future, and that’s unavoidable, but today we dodged that bullet.
  • Amazon’s communication about this has been terrible. It took far too long to acknowledge the problem. Fixing a major problem can take forever, which is understandable, but communicating with your customers should happen very rapidly. Amazon’s culture, internally, is very customer focused, so this is a strange anomaly. I will definitely lean on them some about it, and everyone who was affected should rightfully howl too.
  • I’ve asked Amazon repeatedly for an “Amazon Web Services Health” page that shows the current expected state of all their services. Then you can tell at a glance (and even poll and work into your own monitoring) whether any of the services are having problems. Something like Keynote’s Internet Health Report would be a good start, but as Jesse Robbins points out, trust.salesforce.com is the gold standard. This page could also double as a mechanism to let customers know what’s being worked on and current ETAs when there are problems.

I’ll try to post a follow-up about why we weren’t affected when I know more. It’s possible that some of the reasons we survived was due to some of our “secret sauce” and I just won’t be able to say, but I kinda doubt it.

Bottom line: While the outage was certainly a big deal to those affected, I think the bigger deal here is how Amazon handled the outage. They need to communicate better about these mission critical services and their health.

If I didn’t answer any questions you’d like me to answer, please post a comment and/or send me an email. I’ll do my best to respond.

UPDATE 1: I’m not sure why there’s all this confusion, but SmugMug *does* use Amazon as our primary data store. We maintain a small “hot cache” in our datacenters of frequently/recently viewed photos and videos, but there are massive numbers of them that are only at Amazon. This is a change from our initial usage of S3, and the change is based on how reliable they’ve been. Yes, we still consider them to be very reliable even after an outage like this. And yes, I suspect our “hot cache” did at least partially enable us to ride out this issue.

Categories: amazon Tags: , , , , , , ,
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