Amazon reboot causes a tempest on Twitter

Written on:December 7, 2011
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Amazon is planning to reboot an undetermined number of customer EC2 instances in the coming week or so, something that caused a stir among Amazon watchers today.

Randy Bias, CTO and founder of Cloudscaling, a big user of Amazon services, first reported what appeared to be the scheduled reboot of ”hundreds to thousands” of EC2 instances early Wednesday afternoon.

A check of the Amazon dashboard at 3:45 p.m. EST showed operations running normally except in the Northern Virginia data center which reported “problems with ELB  scaling and provisioning” for the eastern U.S. region. ELB is elastic load balancing which distributes a users application load across multiple EC2 instances.

An Amazon spokeswoman said via email that EC2 services are running normally and that the reboots are scheduled and customers are informed of them in advance. The company upgrades the EC2 frequently, often in a way that is invisible to customers, but some updates require that instances be restarted, she said “That’s what you’re seeing discussed today as we’ve sent customers the schedule.”

Customers can also restart their instances earlier than the scheduled time if they prefer.

Bias published a redacted letter Amazon sent to a customer on December 6 with reboots slated to begin on December 15.

She did not give specifics of the patches, although some Amazon watchers think they may have to do with Xen hypervisor issues,

Photo courtesy of Flickr user  liber.

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