AWS outage shows importance for companies to properly architect and manage outsourced critical infrastructure

Summary

Amazon’s AWS Cloud computing infrastructure had an hours long outage Wednesday beginning around 12:00pm EST that impacted many companies, websites, apps and services. Services were fully restored Thursday morning.

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Analysis

While this incident was successfully contained in a small portion of AWS’ network and was ultimately resolved quickly enough that it did have not the serious and widespread systemic impact that it could have had, it serves as an example to companies of the need to closely architect and manage their IT systems. And while outsourcing functions to the cloud is very often the best solution for many companies, it is critical for companies outsourcing to 3rd parties to understand exactly where those systems impact their business operations, stress test those systems and have contingency plans and redundancies in place for critical systems outages.

There is of course a natural tension between maximum cost efficiency and systems redundancy which companies need to manage appropriately. Cyberhedge refers to the ‘Cybersecurity Trilemma’. This is based on evidence that budget constraints typically mean that while companies should ideally invest in all three components of a digital transformation strategy, the reality is that they can typically only chose to invest in technology to achieve two out of these three goals:

  1. Increase sales/growth
  2. Cut costs
  3. Improve cybersecurity

Highly ranked companies manage this balance well. Improving cybersecurity includes making sure systems are robust and that critical systems back-ups are invested in. This of course adds cost but it also protects future growth and future financial returns from value erosion stemming from poor cyber.

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