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Online dating site dumps Amazon cloud services

WhatsYourPrice.com says Amazon was unresponsive to dating site's requests for information on outages

July 5, 2012 02:39 PM ET

Computerworld - Online dating site WhatsYourPrice.com has kissed Amazon Web Services goodbye after severe East Coast thunderstorms knocked out one of Amazon's data centers last weekend causing a services outage.

The service interruption, which began last Friday and continued through Saturday before being fixed, was the second Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage since mid-June.

WhatsYourPrice.com, where members bid for first dates, said in a statement that the Amazon services outages "produce a lot of unhappy customers."

Brandon Wade, CEO and Founder of WhatsYourPrice.com, said in a statement that Amazon's recent failure damaged the dating site's reputation for reliability among its 400,000 users.

"100% uptime is a required SLA for anyone providing cloud computing services. Amazon's inability to provide such service levels is the main reason we have decided to quit using AWS EC2 altogether," Wade said.

"While you can watch a movie tomorrow if you miss it today, dating is all about the serendipity of meeting the right person at the right time. If an online dating service is not available, a user may lose the chance to meet his or her soulmate forever," he added.

The thunderstorms that struck the Virginia and Washington D.C. area last Friday left 1.2 million homes without power for days and was said to be responsible for the deaths of at least five people.

The rare storm system is known as a derecho, which are caused by severe heat waves and can develop hurricane-force winds. Last Friday's storm spanned some 700 miles and had average wind speeds of 60 miles per hour.

Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) delivers a pay-as-you-go compute services. In an email response to a Compuertworld inquiry, an Amazon spokesperson said the severe thunderstorms caused AWS to lose primary and backup generator power to a portion of a single "Availability Zone" in its US-East Region Friday night. Amazon has "in excess" of 10 datacenters in that region.

"In the thunderstorm on Friday night, several of our datacenters had their utility power impacted, but in only one of them did the redundant power not operate correctly (which ended up impacting a single digit percentage of our Amazon EC2 instances in the US-East Region). We began restoring service to most of the impacted customers Friday night and the remainder were restored on Saturday," the spokesperson wrote.

Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest were also affected by the EC2 outage.

An EC2 outage on June 14 was blamed on a series of problems with generators and electrical switching equipment.

The June 14 outage prompted thousands of complaints from WhatsYourPrice.com members, the dating service said.

Leroy Velasquez, public relations manager for Las Vegas-based WhatsYourPrice.com, said repeated calls to Amazon's support team during the June 14 outage yielded no response.

So, when the AWS experienced yet another outage last weekend, WhatsYourPrice.com decided to permanently move its website over to Fiber Hub, a Las Vegas-based hosting facility.

"Obviously, weather and storms are out of our control. But to help alleviate some reservations about sticking with a large company like Amazon that crashed two times in the span of one month, we felt a local service would be better," Velasquez said.

Apart from Fiber Hub being located in a desert region that is less susceptible to massive storms, Velasquez said its location nearby should make it more responsive to service requests.

"We looked at different competitors and alternative servers to host our websites," Velasquez said."We chose to go with a local one because it's better for accountability and oversight."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at Twitter@lucasmearian, send e-mail to lmearian@computerworld.com or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed Mearian RSS.

Read more about Cloud Computing in Computerworld's Cloud Computing Topic Center.



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