Amazon Still Working On Cloud Glitch - April 22, 2011

By Steven Russolillo and Scott Morrison
NEW YORK (Dow Jones) Inc. (AMZN) said it has fixed most of the technical problems plaguing its Web services business and expects full service to be restored later Friday.

Amazon, which rents Web services and storage to companies, has slowly made progress fixing an outage that has lingered for more than 36 hours and prompted some Web sites to move to contingency plans as they wait for a full recovery.

"Our current estimate is that this will take 3-4 hours until full access is restored," Amazon said in an update on its Web site at 5:15 p.m. EDT.

Amazon representatives didn't respond to requests for additional comment. The company has issued 20 updates on its status Web page since early Thursday morning detailing the outage. It is unclear how many companies have been hurt by Amazon's shutdown.

Reddit, a user-generated news site, said earlier Friday it was slowly getting capacity back and enabling some access to the site as it increases capacity. The company went into "emergency mode" because of Amazon's "degradation."

Businesses have shown a greater interest in cloud computing, which enables companies to access computer servers and data storage over the Internet and internal networks. This allows them to lower data costs and move content more nimbly, but it also comes with the added risk of relying on a third party to fix problems that may arise.

A main issue at the center of this controversy is why Amazon hasn't been able to re-route capacity between data centers that would have avoided this problem and ensured the websites of its users would still operate properly.

Simon Buckingham, chief executive of New York-based Appitalism, an apps marketplace, said he's frustrated because his website has been spotty on Friday after being down on Thursday.

Users trying to access Appitalism's web site at one point on Friday afternoon received the following message: "The Web Server may be down, too busy, or experiencing other problems preventing it from responding to requests. You may wish to try again at a later time."

"We're past the point of this being a routine outage," Buckingham said earlier in the day. "Customers like myself have assumed that if part of Amazon's data center goes down, then traffic will get transferred in an alternative capacity."

"The cloud is marketed as being limitless," he added. "But what this outage tells us is it's not."

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