Safeguarding Your Business: Preparing for an AWS Outage

Sol Dieguez
Oct 24, 2022

There are many things that keep eCommerce store owners concerned about the future of their businesses, but an Amazon Web Services outage is something else. For those who take advantage of the several benefits of Amazing Cloud Computing, the possibility of the system being down for even a few hours could mean tons of valuable data getting lost forever. While AWS offers a data recovery feature, this tool has already failed to work in previous outages, inflicting trouble on store owners who weren’t properly prepared for the situation. We really don’t want that happening to you, so we’re dedicating one of our articles to help you assemble a strategy for a potential AWS app failure! Now, let’s see how to prepare for an AWS outage! 

Why should eCommerce businesses worry about AWS Cloud outages?

Why should you prepare for an AWS outage? Well, first and foremost, an event like this can retail businesses and third-party online services. This means an AWS app failure will make your eCommerce store experience a few hours of downtime and potentially cause you to lose leads and sales opportunities since you’re site isn’t working and available to any visitors during that time. Moreover, AWS outages can lead to data losses and financial costs due to servers that need fixing or information that needs to be restored. 

When was the last AWS outage?

One of the most recent Amazon Web Services outages was on December 7, 2021, due to an impairment of network devices that caused traffic forwarding and network address translation to become overwhelmed. The AWS outage began around 12:30 pm EST and took 5 hours to be resolved by the company. During those hours, it hijacked operations for major streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, and investment platforms like Fidelity Investments, and caused disruptions to package deliveries due to the scanning and routing apps being unavailable. 

But the end of 2021 was a troubling time for Amazon Web Services, as the company saw other two major AWS app failure situations over the course of that December. First, there was network congestion and packet loss on December 15, 2021, due to internal engineers unexpectedly moving traffic to the AWS backbone, even causing Slack to be unavailable. Lastly, the most recent AWS outage was the power outage in the data center that occurred on December 22, 2021, which shut down EC2 and EBS instances and affected services like Slack (yes, again!), EPIC games, and Asana, taking a whooping 12 hours to be resolved. 

Now, we can’t tell you when there will be another Amazon Web Services outage. With the holidays coming up and online traffic increasing, especially for the eCommerce industry, there could be another server overload o power issue. Still, there’s no way for any of us to predict when it could happen r what the consequences would be to such an event. What we can tell you is how to prepare for an AWS outage in order to mitigate any potential risks as much as possible and keep your information and stored data safe. 

How to prepare for an AWS outage as an eCommerce business

Keep offsite copies of critical data.

While it’s easy to become overly trusting of cloud computing services and think your data will live forever on the internet, the reality is that you can never be too protective of your store’s information. That’s why it’s best to keep your essential data on a third-party offsite service. If you’re on a budget, Google Drive and Mega are two free options allowing up to 20GB of information. 

Select an AWS store tier with high availability. 

Amazon Web Services offers different tiers for its cloud computing and storage tools. If you want to avoid any data issues in the case of an AWS outage, we recommend paying extra for a high-availability AWS tier. This will help you access the feature that helps facilitates data mirroring across multiple sites in the same region and protect your data since individual data centers within the same availability zone will also experience it even if they’re only coupled with the malfunctioning data storage center. By diversifying your eCommerce store’s availability zones you will mitigate the risks of a store center outage affecting your website. 

Create multiple replicas across clouds. 

Just as with the high-availability features, you can never be redundant when looking to prepare for an AWS outage. That’s why creating replicas of all your data, applications, servers, and systems to later deploy them separately can save you in case of an AWS system failure. All you need to do is clone your eCommerce store’s front end and back end and store them in different places so that if an active copy fails, the other one can be deployed and take its place.

Run test cases to prepare for an AWS outage. 

We know that rehearsing for an AWS app failure isn’t exactly the merriest way to occupy your development team’s time. Still, running test cases to prepare for an AWS outage will help you understand the kind of damage your eCommerce store could suffer if there’s ever one that affects it. This is especially important since there’s more that can be lost or altered during an Amazon Web Services outage other than data. Your application state, log-ins, and configurations can all be damaged during an outage. Therefore, the need for testing case scenarios becomes bigger. Rehearse for an outage to ensure your company can restore any alterations that come after it. 

Consider getting downtime insurance. 

The truth is an eCommerce downtime can be costly for a wide variety of reasons. That’s why getting downtime insurance is so crucial. These services provide coverage for clients for short-term outages that last up to 12 to 24 hours. Depending on the company you choose, downtime coverage can start as early as an hour after the Amazon Web Services outage. This can save your company a significant amount of downtime recovery money and resources, protecting both your data and your application states for your eCommerce store. 

Take advantage of external tools to monitor your systems. 

Monitoring your resources is a great way to ensure everything is working properly regarding your cloud computing services. Yet relying solely on AWS Cloudwatch might not be useful in the case of an AWS app failure due to the unclear interdependency between this tool and the AWS systems. If you want to be sure, external monitoring tools can help you get ahead of the curve when it comes to the state of your eCommerce server. Using Cloudwatch as a routine internal monitoring tool but also having an external service ready to alert you of an AWS outage will help you prevent any data losses or store problems in the future. 

Finally, make a disaster recovery plan. 

The final step to prepare for an AWS outage is to plan for the worst, We know how grim it sounds, but it’s best to be prepared than to be caught off guard by an AWS app failure and lose your data and other configurations. Unless you’re comfortable looking for AWS alternatives and starting from the ground up after an outage, your development team needs to set up a detailed plan outlining how it would deal with Amazon Web Services being down. 

Are you looking to be prepared for an AWS outage? We can help!

At Resolve Digital, we have an entire team of Amazon Web Services experts ready to help you prepare for an AWS outage. We understand these situations can be extremely distressing for your eCommerce business and risk financial hardship, which is why we always recommend doing your best to mitigate any potential risks. If you’re looking to improve your AWS cloud infrastructure and prepare for an outage or other system complications, our IT professionals can provide you with the help you need. Contact us today to learn more about our eCommerce and custom development services! 

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