I was searching online for the right bouquet of flowers to send a friend yesterday and had decided to visit one of half a dozen national flower chains—one that I had used in the past. After navigating from the homepage to the birthday flowers section, I clicked on the purchase button and nothing happened. At first I thought it was an issue with my computer. But after trying to make a purchase from my phone, I realized, their site was “sort of not working”. Pages were loading, but the site was NOT fully functional. The most important part—the PAYMENT pages—were offline. A few minutes later, I realized that this flower website was hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and was affected by the MAJOR outage experienced by millions. Around noon eastern, AWS reported a major outage to customers across the United States. In fact, millions of American customers were struggling with accessing their data—many of which were websites (Amazon hosts nearly 150 THOUSAND websites).

Amazon’s web services is currently one of the largest web hosting providers in the US. When an outage occurs and you’re impacted, you’re just another number. I could only imagine having my website hosted by a company that large resolving a HUGE outage.

We can liken a storage outage to a power grid failure. The bigger the grid, the more complex it is to fix if something were to affect a major portion of the grid. I’m sure you remember the major outages the Northeast suffered several years ago—it took weeks to get everything up and running. When Amazon is faced with a similarly HUGE outage, their recovery will likely take longer simply because it is affecting an enormous amount of clients.

So Why do people opt for Amazon?—simplicity. They don’t have to have their own servers hosting websites, leaving them without the burden of investing in infrastructure that might be too hard to handle for small businesses that lack full-time IT departments and web developers. Amazon has a lot of infrastructure in place to handle websites and data sets that would require a lot of infrastructure if you were to host internally.

But the size of Amazon as an organization is so large, that its size is also its biggest weakness when it comes to hosting small to medium businesses. Since Amazon has millions of customers—how likely are you to be a priority to them?

When there’s an outage like the one that happened yesterday, how long will your website be down? Will you get answers when calling the 1-800 number? Or will you be STUCK—just like the other 150,000 websites, waiting for a press release?

Now, I don’t think Amazon Web Services is a bad service. But what I’m arguing is that it might not be right for everyone—especially if your business depends on your website. Wouldn’t prefer to be a speed-dial away and on a first-name basis with the experts hosting your site rather than waiting on hold listening to elevator music until someone named Rishi in an Indian service center is able to tell you next to nothing?

If your business relies on your website to

  • Generate new business
  • Communicate with your existing customers
  • Bring in Revenue

then your website IS the heart of your business and shouldn’t be a number. I’d never trust my website hosted by a company so large that I’m just a drop in the bucket.

Just something to consider when considering your web hosting options.

If you experienced an outage this week or are considering your options on hosting, give me a call TODAY to talk through your options. I don’t want your business to fall in the hands of a corporation that only considers you a number.