Internet junkies addicted to Netflix, Instagram, and Pinterest had to find something else to occupy their time over the weekend. All three services, plus some others like BlackBerry Mobile, were down for a period of a time after severe thunder storms rolled through the D.C. area, resulting in significant power outages and knocking out Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud in Virginia.
A number of services, both big and small, rely on Amazon EC2, and the weekend's events underscore the vulnerability of living in the cloud. Netflix and others were down for hours in what ranked as Amazon's second major outage in the area in barely more than a year. According to The New York Times, a problem in Amazon's data center in April 2011 resulted in downtime for a number of popular websites, including Reddit and Quora.
The timing couldn't have been worse for Amazon. Google recently unveiled its Compute Engine cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) product at its I/O developer conference, putting it in direct competition with Amazon, but at half the price.