Mr. Jassy, Tear Down This Wall!

Andrew Jassy
SVP, Amazon Web Services

Hi Andy,

I am not going to ask you how are you doing. For everyone in the Amazon Web Services eco-system, the last 24 hours have been brutal. But I’d like to share my perspective with you, and offer a couple of suggestions:

I believe that in the long run this will be a positive day for the cloud computing movement. Naysayers seeking evidence to avoid the cloud have new ammunition, those hyping the cloud are experiencing its limitations, and the leading cloud provider, your company, is learning from the major outage the importance of being humble and cooperative.

I also believe that the way AWS behaves needs to change. You built the leading infrastructure-as-a-service provider with a level of secrecy typical of a stealth startup or a dominant enterprise software platform vendor. It works for Apple – they deliver a complete integrated value chain. But it is not your position in the cloud ecosystem. Today’s outage shows that secrecy doesn’t and won’t work for an IaaS provider. Compete on scale and enterprise readiness, and part of readiness is being open about your internal architectures, technologies and processes.

Our dev-ops people can’t read from the tea-leaves how to organize our systems for performance, scalability and most importantly disaster recovery. The difference between “reasonable” SLAs and “five-9s” is the difference between improvisation and the complete alignment of our respective operational processes. My ops people were ready at 1:00 am PT to start our own disaster recovery, but status updates completely failed to indicate the severity of the situation. We relied on AWS to fix the problem. Had we had more information, we would have made a different choice.

This brings me to my last point: communication. Your customers need a fundamentally different level of information about your platform. There are some very popular web sites that try to re-engineer the way AWS operates. These secondary sources – based on reverse engineering and conjecture – provide a higher level of communication than we get directly from the AWS pages. We live in the Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia and Wikileaks days! There should not be communication walls between IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and customer layers of the cloud infrastructure.

Tear that wall of secrecy down, Mr. Jasse. Tear it down!

Respectfully,

Roman Stanek
CEO and Founder, GoodData (2009 AWS Startup Challenge winner)
@romanstanek
roman@gooddata.com

P.S. I am publishing this letter on my blog. It’s part of open communication between our companies.