Xen-based Amazon EC2 suffers major faults

First major attempt to use hardware virtualization for general purpose grid computing was launched in August 2006 by Amazon under the name of Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

The system is powered by the Xen open source hypervisor and in more than one year has been used by thousand of users for several tasks, attracted by reliabily such service should offer.

Now this reliability may be severely in doubt: the EC2 service is suffering major faults since a couple of days, when tents (if not hundreds) of users started to lose their virtual instances without any reason, while others started to experiment extreme slowness.

The outage, confirmed by Amazon, revealed the company didn’t use any redundancy solution to protect EC2 instances, so that users lost their environments and data irremediably.

This is not the first time Amazon has problems with the facility: in October 2006 a security issue allowed EC2 users to see other users data in dismissed virtual instances.

After the new issue, mining company credibility once again, Amazon is called to answer several questions about the operational framework and security measures it’s using in the Xen virtual datacenter.