How a Cloud Outage Led to My Best Product Demo Ever

16.04.2020
Simon Ponsford Chief Technical Officer
Home >Blog >How a Cloud Outage Led to My Best Product Demo Ever

Discover how a Microsoft Azure outage disrupted our CTO, Simon’s live product demo and why it made for his best demo ever. 

COVID-19 and the Public Cloud Landscape

Since the pandemic took hold, lockdowns are now, with very little societal notice, commonplace across the world. As more people have been told to stay at home, internet usage has surged. Internet service providers are under pressure to maintain performance, whilst coping with this unparalleled, global demand.

Public cloud providers are having their days in the sun, whilst many other businesses have barricaded their doors to weather the dark months to come. We must thank the cloud providers. Without them, individuals would feel even more isolated than they do today. It is the foundation upon which entertainment services like Netflix and Disney Plus are built. It is the powerhouse that brings supplies to our doorstep, when we can’t step beyond it. It is the video conferencing lens through which we can see our friends and family.

But there is only so much of it to go around. And that inherent limitation hit my product demo like a tonne of bricks.

The Product Demo Brief

The YellowDog development and technology teams have been busy since the turn of the year, releasing new functionality and an intuitive UX. It was time to unveil it to the rest of the team.

My brief was relatively simple:

  • Select one compute-hungry workload.
  • Show it being processed by Microsoft Azure instances, provisioned by the YellowDog Platform.

The Product Demo Delivery

I started by sharing my laptop screen with all attendees on the video call. I then kicked off my product demo in a web browser, using YellowDog to distribute my job across Microsoft Azure data centres in the UK. Data began uploading and compute was being provisioned. Everything looked good.

Then a member of the audience asked why red warning symbols were showing against all the Azure compute.

I didn’t expect this to happen. This wasn’t part of the planned demo.

Unbeknown to me, Microsoft Azure (particularly the UK South data centre location) was experiencing serious capacity issues.

YellowDog is designed to detect provisioning issues or outages, retry where appropriate and then automatically move to another provisioning strategy. Whether that be different instance types, another data centre availability zone, or another provider.

I watched as red symbols turned orange, the orange turned yellow and finally, the yellow turned green. YellowDog had adopted an alternative compute provisioning strategy, maintained my requirement to keep the compute within the UK, and used AWS to complete the job.

Maintaining Efficiency in a Disaster Scenario

Despite my demo going off script, it was an overwhelming success. The audience were impressed. Without human intervention, YellowDog ensured a job was completed regardless of major capacity issues with a cloud provider.

It was only later that day I read about the Azure capacity shortages. I realised the full scale of what had happened in my product demo and the inherent business value of intelligent multi-cloud technology for workload efficiency.

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