Click here to find out more!
Click here to find out more!

Skip Links

Network World

Paul McNamara

Where is Amazon's public apology?

EC2 cloud service apparently back to normal

By Paul McNamara on Mon, 04/25/11 - 9:38am.

amazonLet me apologize in advance if I have somehow overlooked it, but here we are five days after the start of Amazon's calamitous EC2 collapse and the company has yet to issue a public apology.

This is Public Relations 101, no? So what's the holdup? (I'm going to guess lawyers, but that's strictly a guess.)

Amazon began reporting yesterday that all is now normal with its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Relational Database Service, while at the same time acknowledging that efforts were continuing to help "a limited number of customers" recover.  

"We are digging deeply into the root causes of this event and will post a detailed post mortem," the company promised late last night on its Service Health Dashboard.

Perhaps that post mortem will include an apology, because I haven't been able to find anything that I'd call public up until this point.

If you burrow deep inside the Amazon Web Services discussion forum you can find a few instances of individual AWS employees using the words "sorry" and "apologize" when addressing individual AWS customers.

But Amazon has a blog devoted exclusively to its cloud services. There's no apology there; in fact, there is nothing at all there related to the trouble, which is odd in and of itself.

There's nothing on the AWS news page.

And there is no press release on Amazon's main media page.

Twitter has become a popular forum for corporate apologies, but the AWS Twitter feed has gone silent during these troubled times. (Ironically, the last tweet, dated  April 17, touts a "moving to the cloud" workshop.)  

Amazon CIO Werner Vogels has 20,000 followers on Twitter, yet Vogels has tweeted nary a word about the episode save for a perfunctory point to the Service Health Dashboard.

Meanwhile, Amazon's EC2 customers have been apologizing to to their customers beat the band. Reddit, for example, posted this at the height of the outage: "We're sorry and will fix the site as soon as we can."

Is that so hard?

Of course, not everyone agrees that Amazon has been tardy with its apology, or even has any reason to apologize.

I asked my Twitter followers if anyone had seen a public apology from Amazon and received this reply: "Fix first, apologize later."

Amazon's a big company. It can multitask.

I have contacted Amazon's public relations department to see if perhaps they can point me to an apology that escaped my attention ... or provide an explanation as to why there hasn't been one.

Welcome regulars and passersby. Here are a few more recent Buzzblog items. And, if you'd like to receive Buzzblog via e-mail newsletter, here's where to sign up. Follow me on Twitter here.


Why Worry about the apology?

I guess this where I differ... I am less worried about an apology and more worried about it happening again... and I can imagine the guys in gals that do IT every day rely on AWS feel the same... Networkworld, we really don't care about this feel good crap.

Where is Amazon's public apology

What would Amazon issue a public apology for an issue that primarily affected corporate clients vs.the general public? Amazon should apologize to clients of its service and offer remediation/mitigation/credits per its Service Level Agreements with clients.

Your story exists purely to generate sensationalism, and is a discredit to you.

Oh, and I did corporate PR for 18 years, and now I'm an internal writer and editor for a large corporation, so I figure I have a slightly informed opinion to offer.

Amazon's corporate clients

Amazon's corporate clients have clients in the general public who were affected. As a customer of Hootsuite - which was down all day - I was affected by the mishap. I would've appreciated an apology from Amazon because it was not Hootsuite's fault (even though Hootsuite apologized many times).

Corporate clients were not the ONLY ones affected.


Unfortunately, apologizing for something is legally accepted as taking responsibility for the problem which I'm sure Amazon surely doesn't want to do!

update on PR 101

Update on PR 101: when a situation makes you look bad, ignore it. Follow the wisdom of the Obama administration: you don't see the President apologizing for troops still being in Iraq or for prisoners still being in Guantanamo, do you? The modern PR ethos is to not give the nay-sayers any ammo by talking about embarrassing failures. Not a value judgment on Amazon, but gee, Paul how could you have missed this monumental revolution in the proper PR protocols?

I don't want an apology

Rather, I want a detailed explanation of exactly what happened and what they are committing to do to ensure that it never happens again. They will have exactly one chance to communicate this to me, before I will execute a decision regarding my company's future with Amazon. I don't care how long this takes as long as it happens before the end of the quarter, though the response time is one of the pieces of information I will take into consideration. What I absolutely do not want is a vague half-explanation that needs further clarification.

Mistakes are forgivable. Bad intentions, less so.

A little too apologetic

You are asking for an apology from Amazon, and your article starts off with, "Let me apologize in advance...". Perhaps you yourself are a little too apologetic, and you expect the same behavior from everyone else?


Paul, I highly agree with you. Amazon owes its community (yes, its clients) much better public communication.
"Apology"? Well, who cares - shallow anyway.
Amazon needs to publicly communicate as a matter of responsibility. Yes, responsiblity - what a concept.

I am still in awe of how forgiving most folks are being about this whole Amazon debacle. They screwed up BIG TIME. Oh, yes, the "experts" say "hey, you should've been more reponsible with your redundancy, etc." Bologna. What a total lack of understanding of what the cloud is purporting to be, especially for one of the niches it is providing for which is startups.
Is there any point at which all of these people would say "shame on you, Amazon"? Amazon screwed up, yes, BIG TIME, in just about every way.

Will I continue to use them for our sites? Truthfully? Yes. Who is going to do any better than them? Geez.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • You can use BBCode tags in the text.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <p> <strong> <i> <br /> <br> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Get a new challenge
Get an audio challengeGet a visual challenge