Blog Post

Don’t Forget to Turn on PFM in the Cloud

Severe weather in Sydney wreaked havoc on AWS, causing outages for many websites. See how relying on cloud can impact your business.

The weather-related AWS outages in Sydney on Sunday reminded me about a set of conversations I’ve had over the last few weeks. Many web sites, particularly in the ecommerce and banking industries, were impacted, sending some Australians back to the stone age for a few hours not being able to order groceries online.

We live in an interesting time; for the last few years, we’ve been witnessing yet another tectonic shift in technology.

Two of the biggest changes to the industry include:

– The way people interact with information and media is still experiencing a major shift. We are consuming more content from more devices (TV, Laptops, Tablets, Smart phones) than ever before.

– The shift to Cloud Computing; we have gone from using mainframes to servers to back to a shared world called cloud. Never before has access to compute power been this easy and affordable.

That last paradigm shift is incredible, because it’s not only impacting companies and where they decide to host their data and infrastructure, but also our reliance on cloud services to run our companies (email, HR, Payroll, CRM, etc.) is growing significantly on practically a daily basis.

This trend is creating a huge abstraction layer that some love, not having to run a data center of their own anymore.

I was visiting one of the leading media companies in the US six weeks ago discussing the impact that this abstraction layer has on our day-to-day as IT professionals.

The discussion went something like this:

Customer: Well, Mehdi, I am on the cloud now I do not need monitoring.

Mehdi: Ok, you realize we are still talking about servers, network cable, routers, switches….. building, generators, and all of that, right?

Customer: No, it’s the cloud.

Mehdi: Ok, it’s the cloud.

(skipping a few repetitive comments back and forth)

Mehdi: Now how about network, access, transit..

Customer: No, Mehdi, there are no more networks. It’s the cloud.

Mehdi: ok, great… Good luck.

Two weeks later on a trip to the Bay Area, a senior SRE at a major social media company opened my eyes and explained to me what I heard a few weeks earlier:

SRE: Mehdi, you do not understand. These guys are getting their cloud service with an extra feature called PFM!

Mehdi: What the heck!?!?!? Did I miss a feature? A memo?

SRE: No! Dude, they are getting their cloud services with the PFM option!

Ok, so now I am taking this guy seriously until he starts laughing…

SRE: Dude, they are getting the PURE F****** MAGIC option!!!!

And the entire room started laughing.

Yeah I get it now!

The reminded me of IBM’s Magic Pixie Dust in the late 90s.

Maybe this Indian Official was right, talking about the impact of the weather on the cloud. Just be careful if it rains because it will corrupt your data in the cloud.

Coming back to monitoring, this brings up a good point: Where do you monitor from? Is monitoring from AWS to AWS enough, even if you’re using a third-party service?


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