During the Amazon AWS outage last week, I saw an attention-grabbing headline on the gadget and technology review website Gizmodo that read, “Amazon Just Broke the Internet.” While clearly a little tongue-in-cheek, this headline did get me thinking about just how ubiquitous the cloud has become and how interdependent we all are, both personally and professionally.
A post-mortem analysis of the outage uncovered that it was not caused by a malicious hack or distributed denial of service attack (the culprit behind other recent high-profile outages including that of the DNS provider Dyn last October), but an innocent typo made by an Amazon employee. Regardless of the root cause, it was unnerving to be reminded how one random event at a single company could wreak havoc around the world. Trello, Nest, Slack, Quora, IFTTT, and thousands of other companies that rely on AWS experienced significant site disruptions, which in turn rippled out to millions of end users.
Like Amazon, Liaison Technologies has many organizations that rely on it for day-to-day operations. Fortune 500 companies across all industries use our cloud to move critical data between partners, applications, and systems. And because we host and manage our own cloud infrastructure (i.e. we do not rely on public cloud providers such as Amazon AWS), the buck stops with us. It’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly.
To that end, we’ve long prioritized our cloud’s high availability and, in light of Amazon’s recent AWS outage, this feels like an appropriate time to describe some of the key safeguards we have in place to protect our customers:
- With experts currently scrambling to remind us that redundancy across multiple data centers and regions is key, I’m pleased to report that Liaison provides data and operational redundancy across four regionally diverse data centers located in Atlanta, Phoenix, London, and Finland. Additionally, two other Liaison data centers, located in Amsterdam and Washington, are slated for disaster recovery operations should the need arise.
- Liaison is also wrapping up an initiative to convert our Atlanta and Phoenix data centers into active-active centers. Under this architecture, all configurations, payload, and runtime data are replicated bi-directionally, which offers the benefit of zero maintenance downtime, reduced customer impact during minor or major incidents, and a recovery time objective of zero.
- The fact that Amazon’s outage was triggered by an incorrectly entered command speaks volumes to the importance of controls, processes, and oversight. Because we handle regulated data such as PCI or PHI on behalf of our customers, Liaison’s security, compliance, and privacy programs are based on industry and regulatory frameworks such as PCI DSS, SSAE 16 SOC, HIPAA/HITECH, and 21 CFR Part 11. Audited on a regular basis by independent external auditors, our commitment to these frameworks ensures that rigid control and oversight mechanisms are in place across all our operations. Learn more here.
There are many takeaways from last week’s impactful outage, which is estimated by one cyberrisk firm to have cost companies in the S&P 500 index $150 million, as reported in the Wall Street Journal. Among these takeaways is the reminder that the cloud connects us all—for good and for bad. If you’re a consumer of the cloud (and who isn’t?), demand to know what steps providers are taking to ensure high availability of those services you depend on. If you’re a cloud provider, stay vigilant, like Liaison, to do your part in keeping our interconnected world humming along.