People often believe that cloud hosting solutions like Amazon’s EC2 offering are a platinum bullet when it comes to reliable and infinite web scaling and while this might be true for some, the recent Barack Obama AMA on Reddit which is powered by Amazon’s EC2 cloud hosting platform has shown that even EC2 doesn’t offer a direct out-of-the-box solution to capable hosting, at least not without assistance and manual intervention.
While there are many different variables at play here; the code-base, server configuration and database issues – the whole perception of cloud hosting is that it makes it easy for your sites to handle large spikes in traffic and load yet Reddit a site that is no stranger to traffic or breakdowns has been taken down. While Amazon do offer an auto scaling offering for their EC2 service which will depending on certain rules scale up or down it appears as though Reddit don’t use it.
Time and time again we’ve seen numerous issues with Amazon’s EC2 platform (mostly at the fault of EC2 itself) but this time it appears as though Reddit didn’t anticipate the load and traffic. When the current president of The United States of America answers questions on a site as known as Reddit it should be common sense that the site would get a lot of traffic.
Cloud hosting is meant to make it easy to deploy a million instances to meet the demand and then let you scale down accordingly. Looks like Reddit need to hire more engineers as apparently up to now they’ve been getting by with just 2 engineers for more than a billion page views which is impressive but doesn’t cut the mustard any more.
It’ll be interesting to see how other people perceive this situation in other blog posts as well.