Alibaba’s cloud arm gives conflicting reasons for 14 hour outage this week
Aliyun, the cloud arm web giant Alibaba, lost its Hong Kong data center for an extended period earlier this week. Since then, the company has caused confusion with different explanations for the outage.
The disruption began in the morning of June 21, and full services were only restored some 14 hours later, according to a report published on Caixin. The problems affected Aliyun’s cloud infrastructure, which is understood to be located in a data center operated by Hong Kong’s Towngas Telecommunications.
Hong Kong storm outage breach
Source: Robert Koch
Power cut or fire alarm?
Aliyun had established its data center in Hong Kong in May 2014, as part of a wave of Chinese Internet companies looking to set up shop outside the extensive Government created Internet filtering known as the “Great Firewall”. In this case,
According to Caixin, access to servers hosted at Towngas facilities was cut off at 9.37am, and full service was only restored at 11.39pm. However, conflicting reasons being given for the extended outage, resulting in a fair amount of confusion.
Some of the reasons given for the downtime included a power outage, a severed cable between the Mainland and Hong Kong, and a fire alarm that prevented workers from entering the building until an all-clear by the fire department. However, Caixin noted that both Towngas and Hong Kong’s fire department had denied the fire alarm going off.
On its part, Alibaba has previously announced that it intends to compete head-on with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to offer enterprises remote computing capability. In March this year, Aliyun was reported as going into Silicon Valley, and it had also talked about plans to expand to Southeast Asia and Europe.
While the exact reason for the extended outage is still shrouded in mystery, extended outages suffered by competitors such as AWS offers a clue. Specifically, the latter had in time past encountered spikes in utilization when recovering from a localized outage that resulted in recovery being much slower than projected.
Could this be the case for Aliyun in Hong Kong? Whatever the case, a 14-hour outage is completely unacceptable for a cloud platform today. For now, Aliyun has told Caixin that it will compensate its clients for any losses that they suffered due to the service disruption.