Netflix got some coal in its stocking from the same place lots of people had presents delivered from this Christmas. On Christmas eve, the Amazon cloud’s elastic load balancer services ran into trouble at its US-East node, and Netflix’s streaming went down across much of North America alongside various other web properties that depend on it.
Service was eventually restored the next day, but that’s quite an oops. And the fact that Amazon’s Prime service is looking to compete with Netflix makes it an especially eye-opening oops, because Prime did not suffer the same outage. Now, I’m sure it was unintentional and coincidental, but it does make one wonder if we aren’t looking at a CLEC/ILEC service parallel beginning to evolve when it comes to the cloud.
You of telecom know what I mean. When you lease too much of your infrastructure from a competitor, there’s always that background conflict of interest to worry about. There is a difference of course, in that last mile copper was a natural monopoly and cloud computing is anything but, so far anyway. But on the other hand it adds more color to the public versus private versus hybrid cloud argument.
How long will it be before Netflix separates itself from Amazon’s infrastructure in order to not put itself in a position of depending on a competitor’s repair crews? After all, they are already building out their own private CDN infrastructure for much the same reasons. Amazon’s position as both wholesale cloud provider and retail cloud streaming provider looks like a channel conflict that could arise elsewhere just as easily.
It also brings back to the front burner the issue of reliability, or at least perceived reliability, of the cloud relative to alternatives. It’s not as if society spent the last 30 years not having its cable go out at inconvenient moments a dozen times a year. But even though the cloud offers services of all stripes the chance at much improved numerical reliability statistics, the greater centralization means that when a cloud-powered service like Netflix goes down it takes everybody down over a much wider audience. The same is true of every Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter outage of course.