Sunday 1 July 2012
I sit here tonight, writing about a clearly first world problem. As with many others, I “suffered” through the loss of Instagram recently. I awoke this morning to find that my Instagram was back. However, little did I know, it wasn’t entirely back. My feed is not updating. Oh sure, I can upload photos, but no one else’s photos show in my feed. If I wanna see what you posted, I have to go to your profile. I know, woe and sadness and futility of life – unable to see what everyone is photographing, filtering, and uploading.
Of course, the question that I have in all of this is: why does a company that runs one of the world’s most popular apps, not have a back-up plan in the event of a first world emergency?
For those of you who have an actual life and therefore, probably have no idea what so ever about the clear and present crisis regarding Instagram, a severe storm battered Virginia and took down “the Amazon cloud”. Essentially, all of Amazon’s servers went down when a massive power outage hit Virginia. This, in turn, impacted a number of platforms including, Amazon, Netflix, Pinterest, and the ever-loved Instagram. Pretty sure Chime In was also crapped out by the outage too.
Y’see, all of these platforms, and a good many others, utilise Amazon’s cloud. It’s the great big . . . filing cabinet in cyberspace that holds all of the data of these companies, and their consumers. And what happens to the cloud when the power goes out? That’s right. Everything shuts down. Well, duh!
So, we, the consumer, faced the problem that there were platforms and applications that we could not access. At all. At least not until the engineers managed to get everything back online. Well, some of the stuff back online. For example, I was fooled into thinking that Instagram was fully functional again today. Mind you, with my luck, it’s probably got nothing to do with Instagram, and has something to do with my account. Only my account. That’s usually what happens. Anyway . . .
I’m left wondering why so many ‘genius’ computer types didn’t see that consequence of such an outage coming? If lil ol’ me identified this kind of problem when first hearing about cloud computing, why didn’t these computer types? Storing all that information on one company’s servers was never going to end well for anyone. As ordinary people, we know it’s a bloody good idea to back up our data. We’re constantly told this, and yet, this isn’t a concern for major companies who administer major platforms and applications?
I wonder what the result of this major outage will be for the companies involved. Will they invest in back up servers? Will they maintain the status quo and hope to God that this sort of thing never happens again? Only they know. But what I know: whilst there are many who extol the virtues and plusses of cloud computing, I think that it’s entirely unwise to put all of our faith into a system of data storage that has such an obvious weakness like, switch off the power and everyone is screwed.
Just pondering a pretty prominent first world problem . . . and now I’m off to stare at my unchanging Instagram feed again, in the hope that I can will it back to life.
P.S. I’m kidding about staring at my Instagram feed . . . it’s updated, albeit 2 hours after the photos that I wanted to see were posted. Servers? Overload? My account? Who can say until the company updates us on their progress?