Beneficial Intelligence

Other People's Failures

December 10, 2021 Sten Vesterli Season 2 Episode 30
Beneficial Intelligence
Other People's Failures
Show Notes

In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss other people's failures. They can affect you, as the recent Amazon Web Services outage showed. 

Cat owners who had trusted the feeding of their felines to internet-connected devices came home to find their homes shredded by hungry cats. People who had automated their lighting sat in darkness, yelling in vain at their Alexa devices for more light. More serious problems also occurred as students couldn't submit assignments, Ticketmaster couldn't sell Adele tickets and helpless investors watched their stocks tank while being unable to sell.  

On a personal level, this dependency is an occasional inconvenience. But for companies, it is a problem.

When you buy cloud services directly from Amazon, Microsoft, or Google, at least you know what you depend on, and can take your own precautions. 

But your SaaS vendors depend on one of the big three cloud providers. You will find that most of them consider using two different data centers with the same cloud vendor to be plenty of redundancy. It isn't. 

Another problem is your "smart" devices that all communicate via the internet to a server controlled by the device vendor. The vendor is running that server in one of the three big clouds. That means an Amazon outage can lock you out of your building. 

Some of your systems are business crucial. For these, you need to find out what your vendors depend on. Otherwise, you will be blindsided by other people's failures.


Beneficial Intelligence is a bi-weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs, CTOs, and other IT leaders. To get in touch, please contact me at