all about what we are doing to make Net-at-hand a great web publishing system.
Image server downtime on July 20, 2008
Part of our philosophy at Net-at-hand is that we do not try to do everything ourselves. We rely on third parties for different aspects of the service that we provide for the simple reason that we want to focus on doing what we do best, which is providing an easy to use web interface for the purpose of publishing websites.
One of the main areas that we rely on third parties in is our servers. We don’t own the servers that we use, we rely on the services of third parties to provide provide the server infrastructure and maintain them.
Slice host is the provider that we use for the main application servers. They have been very good for us because they allow us complete access to the server; we can set up the exact environment we need to make Net-at-hand efficient. Their service is also excellent, if something goes wrong their staff knows about it before we do usually and has emailed us directly to say what has happened and what they are doing to fix it.
Slicehost, however, had nothing to do with the issue on July 20.
The second major service that we use is the Simple Storage Service from Amazon Web Services. This is a service provided by amazon.com that opens up part of their very robust infrastructure for use by other web developers. Net-at-hand uses this service for the storage and serving of all image, mp3, and file uploads.
Amazon Simple Storage Service has had two issues this year that have resulted in downtime. One was back in February, and the second was on July 20. Throughout both of those times, the staff was very good at keeping me informed about the situation. You can read a full description of the event here. This is a direct description of what happened, what they did throughout the situation, and what they have done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Why we use Amazon Simple Storage Service
We use Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) because it allows us to have the infrastructure in place to grow indefinitely. If we have thousands of customers uploading one hundred images per day, or millions of customers uploading hundreds per day, we have the storage and serving infrastructure in place to handle it. Amazon S3 is built on the same infrastructure as amazon.com, so we know it is going to be able to hold up to the load.
However, and this is a big however, we are not tied to Amazon S3 by any means. If the service proved to be unreliable, we could easily switch to a different platform. The list of distributed online storage services like Amazon S3 is growing quickly.
We feel however, for now anyway, that Amazon S3 offers the best solution for the needs of Net-at-hand and our customers.