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Dcpl cloud computing amazon fail

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What happened during Amazon's outage in April 2011. How we coped, and built a better cloud.

What happened during Amazon's outage in April 2011. How we coped, and built a better cloud.

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  • 1. AMAZON FAIL DC Public Library’s Lessons Learned from the Amazon Cloud OutageFriday, June 24, 2011
  • 2. BACKGROUND • DClibrary.org was first major DC Government website to use cloud-based hosting beginning circa June 2009 • Initial architecture designed to leverage low cost of large instances Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers for database operations and lower cost small and mid servers for WWW services • DClibrary.org Content Management System is Drupal 6 • Bonus: Experimental Drupal 7 amazon machine instance available on our website; currently undergoing user testingFriday, June 24, 2011
  • 3. WHAT WENT WRONG • Background: AWS de-couples the physical hard disk space (called Elastic Block Storage or EBS) from the CPUs (called “compute instances”) • late April 2011: an AWS engineer mistakenly routed “backplane” (internal server traffic) which connects EBS to the CPUS through a system that could not handle the load • This triggered an alarm; since everything in AWS is redundant, the systems thought the backup EBS drives had all failed simultaneously, causing an overload as the system tried to compensate • In a nutshell, it’s almost as if the CPUs no longer had hard drivesFriday, June 24, 2011
  • 4. 2009 ARCHITECTURE • June 2009 architecture focused on load balancing and database replication across Amazon Availability Zones • SVN machine was also in cloud • Too reliant on one service provider (amazon)Friday, June 24, 2011
  • 5. PRE-OUTAGE ARCHITECTURE • AWS began a new service called “RDS” for Relational Data Service in 2010. This was a managed database service -- mySQL -- that was more powerful and simpler to administer than us doing so ourselves on large servers • We migrated to RDS in 2010 • The remaining architecture, with the mid-instance front ends and load balancers, remained the sameFriday, June 24, 2011
  • 6. KEY LESSONS LEARNED • Amazon’s multiple availability zones failover are not reliable • Does not imply separate physical or logical facilities! • Amazon’s poor communication during the outage compounded this problem • Due to Amazon’s poor initial incidence response communications, we on the spot decided to create new machine instances (AMIs) in a different geographic zone (US-West vs. US-East) and copy over the “offsite” one-day-old SVN and DB backups • Downtime minimized to 1.5 hours; many websites (Reddit, Quora, Foursquare) were down for days • Future Worst Case: Amazon goes completely offline. Means we need a very recent full backup of both WWW and DB instances in a physically and logically separate facility + ability to load balance/ change DNS quickly • Solution was to scale up Rackspace instances and make daily copies to those serversFriday, June 24, 2011
  • 7. 2011 ARCHITECTUREFriday, June 24, 2011
  • 8. WHAT WE RECOMMEND • get physically and logically separate backup servers • do nightly full copy backups to the above servers • have a clear, written process in place for the following things: • communicating with superiors about what’s happening • what steps need to be taken to failover • when the “worst-case” failover plan is implemented (can be time-based or circumstance-based or both) • either implement automatic load balancing or (not as good) have complete control over your DNS • use a very good alerts monitoring service; some of the best ones are cheap/free. We use binarycanary.com.Friday, June 24, 2011

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