WorkXpress’s Treff LaPlante Shares Three Learnings for Cloud Buyers from the Amazon Web Services Interruption | Article

By now you’ve probably read at least one of the 1,300 plus articles penned about the recent Amazon Web Services service interruption (including mine). Treff LaPlante, CEO, WorkXpress, sees a silver lining in the thunderstorms surrounding this event. “Even though none of us wanted to see this happen, it has become a beneficial educational experience for everybody,” says the founder of WorkXpress, a company with a fifth-generation software language platform as a service (PaaS).

What did the IT outsourcing world learn? LaPlante, a cloud computing expert, has in-the-trenches advice for cloud computing buyers and prospects.

  1. Mistake: Assuming a service interruption would never happen. “This was a big surprise for everyone,” LaPlante says. He suspects few people thought an Amazon service interruption was possible because the service provider has been so reliable in the past. Although, looking back on it, this was an illogical assumption. “I’d bet Amazon’s history is as good as most corporate data centers,” he says.
    Fix 1: Buyers need to build in redundancy. Buyers of all IT services, not just cloud, should put their mission-critical data or Web hosting in clusters and then scatter these clusters across multiple zones. Amazon separates its services geographically into regions and then divides regions into zones. Companies can cluster across zones within a single region. “This yields a very high tolerance rate,” reports LaPlante. Companies that clustered across multiple zones were fine, the WorkXpress CEO says. So were enterprises that were clustered across regions, a much higher threshold with an “extremely high fault tolerance,” La Plante continues. That’s because this outage only affected one zone.

    Fix 2: LaPlante, who started his company in 2002 and began cloud offerings in 2004, says buyers should question their providers about their uptime availability. “Insist on discussing their uptime and service interruption policies. Buyers have to ask the right questions to get what they need,” he advises.

  2. Mistake: Buyers did not calibrate their tolerances for downtime.
    Fix 1: Determine those tolerances! LaPlante points out buyers can only make educated decisions once they know their tolerances because they must spend more time and money as the uptime percentages increase.

    Fix 2: Get your platform, infrastructure, and software providers to work together.
    This is especially true for buyers that need high uptime, LaPlante notes. “These three legs of the cloud are co-dependent,” he points out.

  3. Mistake: Dismissing the power of today’s and tomorrow’s cloud. LaPlante says some of his clients have moved their WorkXpress platform from the cloud to back behind their corporate firewalls. (The WorkXpress platform itself sits in the cloud.)
    Fix 1: Concentrating on just the facts often leads to positive actions.By not seeing things as good or bad, it’s possible to detach from an incident and create new strategies and solve problems. “Eliminate the judgments and look at the facts, just the facts,” he suggests.

    Fix 2: Don’t let this occurrence delay your embrace of cloud technology. LaPlante predicts the Amazon issue will “accelerate” the value buyers will receive migrating to the cloud because the service providers are now acutely aware of the problem and are striving to increase their uptime.

    “I still believe the opportunity in the cloud is enormous. This is a train that one incident won’t stop,” he says.

Will Amazon Web Services experience another SLA-violating service interruption? He believes Amazon’s reputation rests on the repair. He predicts “a lot of people at Amazon – and other cloud providers – are working hard to fix the problem to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

But he guarantees “something else will happen.” Ah, the complexities of modern business. Hold on tight and be prepared!


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