Lightning takes out Amazon, Microsoft clouds in Dublin

Cloud services owned by both Amazon and Microsoft were down for up to 3 and 6 hours respectively yesterday evening following a lightning strike in the Dublin area of Ireland.

Amazon's EU-West Availability Zone for its AWS services, as well as a datacenter for Microsoft's BPOS (Business Productivity Online Services) both have datacenters in the region (as well as other providers such as Google, who did not record that they were affected by this).

Online cloud monitoring service CloudHarmony recorded that Amazon's center was unavailable for 2 hours and 59 minutes. According to Amazon, "The issues with the affected Availability Zone are the result of a power failure in that zone."

Amazon's preliminary report provided the following detail of the issue: "We understand at this point that a lighting strike hit a transformer from a utility provider to one of our Availability Zones in Dublin, sparking an explosion and fire. Normally, upon dropping the utility power provided by the transformer, electrical load would be seamlessly picked up by backup generators. The transient electric deviation caused by the explosion was large enough that it propagated to a portion of the phase control system that synchronizes the backup generator plant, disabling some of them. Power sources must be phase-synchronized before they can be brought online to load. Bringing these generators online required manual synchronization."

"We've now restored power to the Availability Zone and are bringing EC2 instances up."

Microsoft's servers were down for even longer than Amazon's, with their Twitter feed reporting improved availability over 4 hours after they first announced issues.

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