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Bad weather in Dublin damaged datacentres used by the two computer giants, taking out the main power supply and damaging the control systems for the back up generators. Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing platform was knocked offline for the second time this year, after disruption caused in April by a routine power upgrade.

Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) was also put out of action. Amazon.co.uk was also apparently offline briefly, but it is not yet known whether this was due to traffic of the lightning strike.Amazon’s service health dashboard said that back-up power sources had to be manually operated before power could be restored.

Within three hours some services were back up, and the company had restored 60 per cent of affected operations were back online within 12 hours.

Microsoft reported in its Twitter feed that it too restored services within three hours.

Dublin is used by a range of IT companies because the city offers favourable tax conditions and good connectivity, along with a reasonable supply of skilled IT workers. The lightning strike, however, highlights the risks of such clustering, and of reliance on cloud services in general.

Overall, however, studies have shown that cloud services routinely offer availability above 99 per cent, which is higher than that usually provided by in-house IT departments.  

 Source: The Telegraph News