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Despite Amazon Web Service outage, 2nd Watch bullish about cloud reliability

We ran this story today in print and online, about Madrona Venture Group leading an investment round of $4.2 million for 2nd Watch, a cloud services company with its HQ in Liberty Lake.

The press release made a major deal out of 2nd Watch having “premiere” partner status with Amazon Web Services, the cloud-service division of Seattle's large online retailer. While AWS is not 2nd Watch's exclusive service provider, it's the No. 1 option for helping other firms get on the cloud, the release noted.

And we made sure, when researching the story, to ask folks at 2nd Watch about the reliability of AWS in light of another major service disruption over the holiday.

Stories noted that AWS lost some of its data center operations in the East, with the result that at least one large consumer experience, streaming of Netflix video, was disrupted.

So we asked co-founder Jeff Aden if AWS has had any problems that affect 2nd Watch customers. Here's his reply:  “I can’t comment on Netflix as I do not know the details of what took place and there has been no postmortem on the topic. 2nd Watch has not had a single High Availability “HA” architecture or HA customer that has had a business impact due to AWS (problems).”

That WSJ.com story cited above noted: “The Amazon unit said it identified and fixed technical problems at its operations in Northern Virginia. They affected other firms besides Netflix, including Scope, a San Francisco social-media company, and software company Heroku Inc.

“Amazon hasn't offered an explanation for the source of the outage, which didn't affect its own online operations. A spokeswoman said Amazon would release a full summary of the outage in the coming days.”
  

Liberty Lake’s 2nd Watch gets major investment from Madrona Venture Group

Liberty Lake cloud service company 2nd Watch, Inc. announced it's received $4.2 million funding primarily led by Seattle's Madrona Venture Group, with participation from other private investors.

Launched in 2010, 2nd Watch helps large and midsized companies move IT applications and manage company business processes with cloud-based services.

2nd Watch has become a premiere partner with Amazon Web Services, the growing cloud-service division of Seattle's large Amazon.com operationg.

A company release said the funding will help with growth. The company now has about 30 workers in its Liberty Lake and Seatlle offices.

Madrona is one of the most active Western Washington VC firms. It  manages about $1 billion and was an early investor in companies such as Amazon.com, Isilon Systems, World Wide Packets, iConclude, Farecast.com and ShareBuilder.

To read a more complete and detailed version of this story, go to Spokesman.com this evening or look in the Dec. 27 print edition of The Spokesman-Review.
  

Liberty Lake cloud services firm 2nd Watch gets partner status from AWS

Spokane companies generally aren't pushing the boundaries of cloud technology. Except for a few, and one of the best examples is Liberty Lake-based 2nd Watch, Inc..

We at Officehours haven't called 2nd Watch's number all that often this year. This week we do have one news item that brings them into a bit more focus.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has created a “premier consulting partner” system to establish a top tier of providers it regards as key providers of cloud services. It recently named 2nd Watch part of the program.

A press release noted  2nd Watch is part of 15 companies given the premier consulting partner designation. 

The release added: “The achievement …  from Amazon Web Services represents a major milestone in our strategic plan. Our success can be attributed to forward-thinking leadership, a highly technical and operationally-focused staff, and numerous positive customer experiences,” stated 2nd Watch co-founder and president Jeff Aden.

“This recognition highlights our commitment to bringing AWS to companies, allowing them to become more agile and freeing up additional capital for strategic business expansion.”

Bad weather wreaks havoc with companies that rely on cloud computing

A lot of people have moved their web content to the cloud. And it's not likely to decline over time, as a solid technology service for providing easy access and reliable data backup.

But there are downsides, as seen in this past weekend's serious weather disruptions along the East Coast.

A New York Times story today lays out how the storm created a large disruption in web services, including such key providers as Instagram and Amazon.

We'll provide a short segment from the Times story

On Friday night, lightning in Virginia took out part of Amazon’s cloud computing service, called Amazon Web Services, which hundreds of companies use for data storage and computation. Well-known sites like Netflix, Pinterest and Instagram were not accessible for hours. There was little information for customers about what had happened, or even whether user data was safe.

The interruption underlined how businesses and consumers are increasingly exposed to unforeseen risks and wrenching disruptions as they increasingly embrace life in the cloud. It was also a big blow to what is probably the fastest-growing part of the media business, start-ups on the social Web that attract millions of users seemingly overnight.

They will also have another option. On Thursday, Google said it would offer computing over the Internet at half the price of Amazon.

The weekend’s disruption happened after a lightning storm caused the power to fail at the Amazon Web Services center in Northern Virginia containing thousands of computer servers. For reasons Amazon was still unsure of on Sunday, the data center’s backup generator also failed.

By midday Saturday, Amazon said in a statement that it had restored service “to most of our impacted customers, and continue to work to restore service to our remaining impacted customers,” adding, “we will share more details on this event in the coming days.” The company had no further comment.

It was at least the second major failure for Amazon in that area. In April 2011, a problem in Amazon’s networking at a nearby data center took down a number of applications and popular Web sites, including Reddit and Quora, for more than a day. 

Amazon cloud services underlines its relationship with Liberty Lake’s IT-Lifeline

Liberty Lake-based IT-Lifeline is living in the cloud fast lane, or at least in the Amazon Web Services segment of the cloud fast lane.

Amazon recently sent out a detailed and clogged-with-jargon release about its AWS Cloud Gateway. If you dare to decipher the text of this release, put on your geek goggles and go for it:  We did and it nearly caused a slipped disk:

“With the AWS Storage Gateway, we’re providing businesses yet another way to easily take advantage of AWS’s secure, scalable and cost-effective cloud storage for use with their on-premises applications,” said a company person.  

“The AWS Storage Gateway works with your existing applications using a standard iSCSI interface, securely transfers your data to AWS over SSL, and stores data encrypted at rest in Amazon S3.”

The AWS Storage Gateway also makes it easy to leverage the on-demand compute capacity of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for additional capacity during peak periods, for new projects, or as a more cost-effective way to run normal enterprise workloads. To take advantage of this compute capacity, enterprises can mirror on-premises data to Amazon EC2 instances by using the AWS Storage Gateway to upload the data to Amazon S3 in the form of Amazon EBS snapshots. Amazon EBS volumes can easily be created from these snapshots (using either the AWS Management Console or Amazon EC2’s APIs) and attached to Amazon EC2 compute instances.”

And then it mentions IT-Lifeline:

“IT-Lifeline provides data vaulting and disaster recovery services to regulated industries such as banking and healthcare organizations. “We look forward to using the AWS Storage Gateway ourselves, as well as integrating it into our BLACKCLOUD service for our customers,” said Matthew Gerber, CEO at IT-Lifeline. “With this capability, our customers and our company can take advantage of simplified data vaulting and practically infinite elasticity for disaster recovery needs.”

Personally, the release seems to use about 200 more words to get the point across. Which is: Cloud services save money and simplify IT operations and management.

As for the IT-Lifeline connection, that's very nice. The release establishes that Amazon regards IT-Lifeline as a primary partner that provides backup and recovery services for customers using Amazon's growing catalog of cloud computing.

That's a feather in their hat. 

Freebie Friday: Free copy of ‘Cloud Computing For Startups’ from LaunchAny

Freebie Friday has just landed:

Today's free ebook download is a copy of “Cloud Computing For Startups.” It's provided by the web services consulting group LaunchAny.

Download the 25-pager for free here.