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Why AWS outage validates the need for Aussie cloud consultants

Why AWS outage validates the need for Aussie cloud consultants

Downtime validates role of the trusted advisor as Australian businesses remain challenged by migration.

Mark Ogden - Head of Symebo, a division of Chamonix Consulting

Mark Ogden - Head of Symebo, a division of Chamonix Consulting

As the dust settles on the most recent outage to impact the public cloud, the need for expert consultants in Australia continues to heighten.

Because despite uptake soaring in Australia - with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) spend expected to reach $1 billion by 2020 - the difference between end-user appetite and expertise still remains vast.

Illustrated during the Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage in late February, businesses remain challenged by the complexities of migrating workloads to the skies.

As reported by ARN, AWS apologised for the incident during a post-mortem in early March, with the outage impacting businesses such as Netflix, Reddit, Adobe and Imgur.

In fact, more than half of the top 100 online retail sites experienced slower load times during the outage, leading organisations to question whether the public cloud brand can be trusted for mission-critical workloads and applications.

“I don’t believe so,” Mark Ogden, Head of Symebo - a division of Chamonix Consulting - told ARN. “But what it will stimulate is greater awareness on how to architect for maximum benefit on the cloud, and this is a good thing.”

Although simple to access, Ogden said the cloud is “actually quite complex”, especially to those without deeper experience or knowledge on how best to set up for success.

“By planning appropriately and engaging the right expertise to assist, businesses can easily mitigate any risks while ensuring the most effective and efficient outcome is achieved,” he added.

But in assessing the outage through local eyes, could downtime have been avoided for Australian organisations?

“The simple answer is yes,” Ogden said. “The recent outage was contained within a single instance of the massive AWS ecosystem, hence services contained to the affected instance would have experienced downtime.”

Yet Ogden said businesses that adopted the preferred architecture for high availability, being deployment across multiple availability zones, would not have been impacted.

“We saw this in Australia during the Sydney storm incident in June 2016, at that time and from my experience, customers that were aligned only to the affected Sydney data centre experienced downtime for up to three hours,” he explained.

“However, the majority of customers who adopted architecture for high availability had no impact at all.”

As reported by ARN, during the recent outage, AWS suffered a system failure that impacted websites and applications, following “high error rates” with S3 in US-EAST-1.

But while Ogden questioned whether the outage created a “new need” for cloud consultants as such, he did acknowledge that it helps “validate the role” that experts play in the market.

“I would expect all cloud consultants would be reviewing their own approaches and learning from an experience like this, as we are,” he added.

“The outage should be the catalyst for all businesses to review their own environments, could they withstand an event if it happened in a different region tomorrow?”

As a specialist cloud consultancy partner, Ogden said Chamonix’s approach is built around ensuring the environment created for customers is “robust enough” to withstand events such as this as planning for downtime is more strategic than “simply hoping it does not happen”.

In working with a range of businesses across a range of industries - including banking and finance, retail and utilities - Ogden acknowledged that the majority of organisations in Australia remain challenged by the complexities associated with migrating to the cloud, complexities that can prove costly in the long run.

“But they are easily avoided,” he added. “Wherever I have seen a less than ideal outcome in a business it has always been due to poor initial set up or lack of ongoing management - and this is not a technology problem, but people related.

“Sometimes internal IT Google searches enough to be dangerous, establishes a cloud environment via a website and a credit card but does not optimise costs, establish correct processes or avoid common pitfalls.

“This is the deep experience and knowledge that a professional cloud consultant can bring to the customer, ensuring the outcome is optimal and enables all the benefits that the cloud can offer.”

As both an AWS and Microsoft partner in Australia, Chamonix provides resource augmentation and outcome based delivery services, alongside product development services and solutions.

“We have developed a sophisticated cloud migration approach from a deep experience gained over the past six years, it is deliberately structured and covers six key areas," Ogden explained.

“Firstly, establishing the cloud migration principles, then completing the landscape discovery and identifying candidate workloads, before establishing the foundation to prepare for cloud services, progressively migrating with continual assessment and finally, managing the established environments.”


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