Washington DC Weather Leads to Amazon Cloud Crash

It was a darker time during the Instagram Crash of 2012. There were no pictures of anyone’s shoes, food, or cute puppies. Somehow, we all managed to survive this catastrophic moment. 

This past Friday, a violent storm left hundreds without power, several dead, but more importantly, it knocked out the Instagram server, rendering millions without the ability to post photos. The storm caused the Amazon cloud server outage, which serves Netflix, Instagram, and Pinterest customers. The three sites crashed, but power was restored in the early hours of the morning. The crash led to outraged customers questioning the sites and how they operate.

So, what are the lessons to be learned from this fiasco?

First, Mother Nature has no mercy. Just like she took power from residents all along the East Coast, she will take away your ability to post pictures of what you are eating. Don’t think you are safe. The storm left many without power for days in record heat temperatures, while the unaffected cozily hit refresh on Instagram every few minutes. 

Many also learned what a cloud server is. For those who are still wondering, here is a simple guide: PolicyMic's Jeanne Vickery explains that cloud servers allow small start-ups, like Instagram, to focus more on the creative potential of the website, instead of maintenance of a server. However, much like all things that are powered by electricity (which we forget about until a power outage), cloud servers play by the same rules as other electric appliances.

The final lesson here is that Amazon Web Services (AWS) could use some work. Although things like the brutal storm this past Friday are outside of their control, there are still measures that can be set in place by Amazon to prevent such server crashes from occurring. One measure they already have in place is known as Elastic Load Balancing. AWS explains, “Using Elastic Load Balancing, you can distribute incoming traffic across your Amazon EC2 instances in a single Availability Zone or multiple Availability Zones.” However, this system did not prove effective with so many services down this past Friday. Perhaps it is time for Amazon to step up its game for the sake of all Instagram users out there.