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The Aftermath: Amazon EC2, Sony PlayStation Network Recover from Cloud Crashes

amazon_aws_logo.jpgAmazon's (news, site) Elastic Cloud Compute service went down last week and is still recovering today, after bringing a number of major services to a standstill. Meanwhile, Sony's PlayStation network is also experiencing problems.

UPDATE - Tuesday 16:00 EST

Sony has just come clean about the whole PSN outage, in quite a sobering message on its blog. The highlights, if they can be called that, are that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network.

Sony has shut down the service, called in outside investigators and recommends that users get their credit reports and check for dubious behavior. Don't expect PSN to come back up until additional security measures are in place.

As for Amazon, who look like they are getting off quite lightly in comparison, all things seem to getting back to normal and affected Amazon users are apologizing to their customers, while waiting to hear about what Amazon will do to compensate them.

One such example is from Drupal who sent an email to customers:

Late last week, Drupal Gardens experienced an unexpected delay in service due to a widely-publicized outage at our partner Amazon Web Services (AWS). Sites were restored through Friday and, by midnight Friday, all sites were back up and fully functional.

The purpose of this message is to offer our sincere apologies to you for this disruption and to give affected customers a free month of service. Annual subscribers will get a one month extension. For those with monthly plans, your next month of service will be completely free of charge.

UPDATE - Tuesday 5:00 EST

Amazon continues a return to normality, but things just get worse for Sony with the rumors of credit card theft doing the rounds. Although, this could be an extension of a fake funds rumor that surfaced when PSN first went down. In its latest statement, the company isn't even sure if the service will be back up on Wednesday, as previously planned.

Obviously, there is no point putting the same broken system back in place, and Sony needs time to improve its security, but the delay will only anger gamers, film and music fans who use Sony's various services. Sony unveiled its new tablet PCs in Tokyo today and made no mention of the outage, even though they will use PSN services.

UPDATE - Monday 9:00 EST

Amazon's services are now largely back up and running, with the caveat of delays and slow service, but complaints seem to be dying down. Now, the inquest can begin into this failure and compensation paid to those inconvenienced. There's already an excellent lessons to learn piece on CNET.

Sony, on the other hand, is basically having to rebuild its PSN network to prevent a repeat of the hack that brought it down last Wednesday. Service may be brought back up on Tuesday/Wednesday, but the whole global service will have been down for a week.

Sony is still keeping largely quiet about this disaster that has left tens of millions of gamers without any online service. But, what it seems has happened is that, after an original protest hack by the Anonymous group, another hacker found a similar way in and either started doing lots of damage or mischief (possibly, crediting accounts with fake funds).

Either way, Sony has been caught with its pants down in public, proving that its service is both insecure and unsafe, weak and overly restrictive. If someone takes down Microsoft's Xbox onlne service, Netflix or Apple's iTunes,  then the whole walled-garden concept of consumer service is looking seriously shaky.

UPDATE - Saturday 4:30 EST

Sony's PSN is still inaccessible to millions of gamers and its new Qriocity music service is also out of action. At least Sony has acknowledged the nature of the outage and given a practical timeframe (even if it is days away) for recovery. Sony says:

An external intrusion on our system has affected our PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. In order to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure operation of our network services going forward, we turned off PlayStation Network & Qriocity services on the evening of Wednesday, April 20th. Providing quality entertainment services to our customers and partners is our utmost priority. We are doing all we can to resolve this situation quickly, and we once again thank you for your patience. We will continue to update you promptly as we have additional information to share."

 

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