What I Really Didn't Want for Christmas: Another AWS Outage
by Diane Mueller

Diane Mueller, December 27, 2012

Oh holiday joy! While most of you were tucked away with visions of sugarplums in your head, others were scrambling to restore sites, services and back-ends that were left hanging on AWS due to an outage. Some of you may have read my blog post on developing & deploying a geolocation node.js mobile app using FeedHenry and Stackato, which I chose to deploy on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Well this Christmas eve, Santa came early, and I got a chance to test moving my mobile application’s back-end from AWS to HPCloud.

I had just finished wrapping all of my presents and I was just settling down with a nice mug of eggnog when I stopped to check my inbox. I got an early “present” from my app in the form of an automated notification from my good friends at the Appsecute PaaS monitoring service - my own personal Stackato cluster on AWS had gone awry. The official ActiveState EC2 Stackato Sandbox was fine, but alas, I had decided to deploy my own demo Stackato Cluster on EC2 as my personal playground.

Oh, what fun it would be, eh?

So, I peeked on twitter to see if anyone else has noticed anything odd in the @awscloud. First @GigaOM spoke up, noting that Netflix was down. Perhaps someone over at GigaOM had noticed an interruption while streaming “It’s A Wonderful Life”? You shouldn't mess with Christmas classics!


I next checked to see what the ever-patient @adrianco was doing over at NetFlix as it appears he had drawn the unlucky card and was on call @netflix for the night.


And then lo and behold, a greeting from the Amazon Web Services gods appeared with a present for all. So quick like a mouse (and before my spouse could notice), I scurried to my iPhone to confirm that my mobile app was indeed not talking to its AWS-hosted backend running on my mini-PaaS cluster!

Then, rather than waiting for AWS to sort itself out, I logged into to FeedHenry and quickly re-deployed my back-end to my other Stackato Private PaaS cluster running on HPCloud - with just click of my mouse! No clients to redeploy, no lost data, and no users to notify beyond a quick email note.

In less than 10 minutes, I was back to my eggnog and spouse, and all thru the house not a creature was stirring not even my mouse! So while the good folks at NetFlix and AWS spent the night figuring out what regions were working and what needed to be fixed - my app was up and running on HP Cloud within minutes.

Being able redeploy my application's back-end with a single mouse click to Stackato on any cloud is truly the best gift from Santa this year. Many thanks to our partners FeedHenry, Appsecute, and HPCloud for standing in as this year’s three wise men bearing gifts of monitoring, clouds and automation! In the end, it really did turn out to be a joyful and relaxing holiday! For everyone except AWS, Netflix and anyone else locked into a single cloud provider.

For more information about running Stackato on any cloud, check Stackato at and make deploying your applications on Stackato your New Year’s resolution. Your 2013 will be a lot happier and less stressful!

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Diane Mueller is a Cloud Evangelist at ActiveState. She has been designing & implementing financial applications at Fortune 500 corporations for over 20 years. Diane has been actively involved in development efforts of XBRL Open Standard ( since 1999.