Last Sunday (07 Aug 2011), the European Data Centre of Amazon’s cloud computing service, which is based in Dublin, experienced an outage. This is something that shouldn’t happen, but it CAN happen. Data centres are usually protected against outages with separate power sources from the electricity supplier and with their own diesel generators etc, but problems can and do occur. It only gets a little odd if the stories don’t make sense.

Amazon claimed that lightning struck a transformer of the electricity supplier and then an explosion in this transformer had such a bad effect on the synchronisation of some services that Amazon’s services were unavailable for up to 48 hours.

Strangely, though, there was no lightning in Citywest on that day. And strangely the ESB doesn’t know anything about an explosion and a fire. And strangely other data centres in Citywest survived the power outage by switching over to their backup generators that made sure that their customers were not affected.

So what was Amazon on about? Maybe they really don’t have the full picture (reason for power outage) yet, but it is a little tall to claim that a lightning strike, an explosion and a fire was responsible if you don’t know. And why did Amazon’s generators not sort out the problem? …it seems like someone screwed up!

In this world where 100% availability is important, this is not ok to admit, though. We will survive! But the galling thing is that that wrong report about the unreliable and lightning affected power infrastructure in Dublin went around the world and attracted comments about the unsuitability of Ireland for services that need high reliability. NOT a good thing in economically difficult times and when serious inward investment is required in Ireland.

Thanks, Amazon, for your help! :-/

How the story was reported /based on information provided by Amazon) and then rapidly was picked up by online and offline media all around the world:

The mysterious circumstances if you look into it further: