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Amazon Outage Thriller

EC2 Hacking & Microsoft Acquires Opalis for Cloud Management

Amazon Bootcamp at Cloud Expo

Whoops! Missed a day there. I was busy planning out events for 2010 for GoGrid!

I realize now that this is somewhat difficult writing about Cloud News every day so I’m going to start something for Fridays called “This Week in Cloud” which will have some of the bigger Cloud Computing news stories that I came across.

I may still do the regular “Cloud News” if there are events or items that warrant coverage.

Without further ado, here’s what I read about that got my interest:

  • Amazon’s Data Center Outage Reads Like a Thriller
    “When an Amazon Web Services data center lost power early Wednesday, the company wrote about the unfolding event with the brevity and tension of one its bestselling pot boilers.” (Source: CIO/ComputerWorld)
  • Commentary: Ok, we all know that outages happen, whether in the cloud or not. The cloud is under intense scrutiny so when there is even the most minor of hiccups, people scream and yell and pull out their SLA’s and demand immediate recourse. It’s never fun when I read about an outage since we are all birds of a feather working towards a common good. The reason I linked to this article in particular is because of the nature in which it was written…truly like a technology thriller! The funny thing is, I have been through a few outages in various companies that I have worked for and they are never fun. You are torn in many directions of trying to find out internally what is going one, and figuring out the best way to communicate with customers in a way where they won’t freak out but still understand that an “event” is being actively working on. When there is an outage, it truly does unfold organically (and hopefully not catastrophically, causing a cascade effect). Third party monitoring is important as is a good backup and disaster recovery strategy. (GoGrid recently partnered with Stratonomic who provides real-time DR solutions.)  Regardless, the Amazon Data Center outage did not last long and everyone was back on track (but hopefully thinking about making their IT infrastructure more resilient). It was nice to see that GoGrid had (and still seems to have) the highest marks on the Apparent Networks Cloud Provider Scorecard.
  • Hackers Find a Home in Amazon’s EC2 Cloud
    “Security researchers have spotted the Zeus botnet running an unauthorized command and control center on Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing infrastructure. This marks the first time Amazon Web Services’ cloud infrastructure has been used for this type of illegal activity, according to Don DeBolt, director of threat research with HCL Technologies, a contractor that does security research for CA.” (Source: PCWorld)


    • Commentary: I don’t want to turn this into an AWS bashing, that is not my intent (even though they are a direct competitor to GoGrid). But this news (old by internet news speed standards) is important to look at. Hackers are an inquisitive (yet destructive) bunch. Recently, I heard about how some hackers created a service (called AutoWhaler) to pull account details from phishing sites. Now if that isn’t innovation, I don’t know what is! Seriously though, hackers can cause a variety of damage to infrastructures that are not protected and actively monitored. The problem is, they are so innovative (or perhaps “creative” is a better word), that it is often difficult to prevent or plan for intrusions within one’s infrastructure. Obviously this and other examples simply prove that while Cloud Computing can help many, we still have a ways to go. On the flipside, this same type of invasion could well have happened within a server farm of physical servers. It’s just the Cloud has the spotlight now.
  • Microsoft buys Opalis to strengthen cloud management capabilities
    “Moving to strengthen its management tools related to virtual environments, Microsoft Friday said that it has purchased IT process automation vendor Opalis for an undisclosed sum. Microsoft said the acquisition, which had been rumored for nearly two months, adds to its System Center portfolio needed tools that can manage highly automated and scalable virtual environments. The tools complement Microsoft’s strategy to stretch its management tools across on-premises environments and the cloud.” (source: NetworkWorld)


    • Commentary: And so the Cloud acquisitions begin (or continue). 2010 will have many more of this with M&A activities heating up, especially within the Cloud. Smaller vendors and niche market players will have their 15 minutes of fame next year as they innovate and then potentially get sucked up into the bigger clouds out there. Microsoft is going full steam now into the Cloud with Azure and other Cloud-ish offerings (e.g., Office 2010) so there will be lots to watch in 2010. 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Michael Sheehan

Michael Sheehan is the Technology Evangelist for Cloud Computing Infrastructure provider GoGrid and ServePath and is an avid technology pundit. GoGrid is the cloud hosting division of ServePath Dedicated Hosting, a company with extensive expertise and experience in web hosting infrastructure. Follow him on Twitter.

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