Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services.
The launch of Amazon Web Services is rare, but it has huge consequences.
It happened this week, when Amazon abandoned Talking, a social network that gained ground with the conservatives after Twitter banned President Donald Trump and hosted content that encouraged violence. Parler brought a lawsuit against Amazon in Federal District Court to try to prevent Amazon from suspending Parler’s account, and Amazon pushed back, asking the court to dismiss Parler’s petition.
The incident demonstrates a kind of power that Amazon wields almost uniquely, as many companies depend on it to provide computing and data storage. Amazon controlled 45% of cloud infrastructure in 2019, more than any other company, technology research firm estimates Gartner. The app survived without being listed in Apple and Google app stores, but being kicked out of the Amazon cloud has left Speaking out of the internet for days.
Parler’s engineering team had designed software that was based on IT resources from Amazon Web Services, and the company had been in talks with Amazon about adopting the proprietary AWS database and artificial intelligence services, the company said in a district court filing Wednesday.
It would take time to figure out how to perform similar functions on Parler’s own servers or in a cloud other than AWS. And in the case of Speaking, the time is critical, as it came as the service was gaining attention and new users following Trump’s Twitter ban.
Parler’s engineers could learn to use a different IT infrastructure, or the company could hire developers who already have this knowledge. But since no cloud provider is as popular as Amazon, people who are skilled in, say, the Oracle cloud are not as easy to find as those who know how to rely on AWS.
How quickly Amazon acted shouldn’t come as a shock. The companies have leaked details of their deals with Amazon that have warned of these types of sudden shutdowns for years.
In 2010, the DNA sequencing company Complete Genomics said that “an interruption of services by Amazon Web Services, on which we rely to provide finished genomic data to our customers, would result in our customers not receiving their data on time.”
Game company Zynga warned her AWS foundation could quickly disappear when she filed for its 2011 IPO prospectus. At the time, AWS hosted half of the traffic for Zynga games, such as FarmVille and Words with Friends, the company said.
“AWS may terminate the Agreement without cause by providing 180 days written notice, and may terminate the Agreement with 30 days’ written notice for cause, including any material defect or breach of the Agreement on our part that we do not. do not remedy within 30 days. day period, “Zynga said.
AWS can even terminate or suspend his agreement with a customer immediately under certain circumstances, as it did in 2010 with Wikileaks, indicating violations of AWS terms of service.
Talk started using AWS in 2018, long after the Wikileaks incident and the first company disclosures about the possibility of cloud disruptions.
When AWS told Parler it planned to suspend Parler’s AWS account, it said Parler violated the terms on several occasions, including not owning or controlling the rights to its content.
Over the course of several weeks, AWS alerted Speak to instances of user content that encouraged violence, Amazon said in a court filing. More of this content surfaced after protesters stormed the Capitol Building in Washington on January 6, halting Congressional confirmation of the Electoral College’s 2020 presidential election results. AWS reported that Parler was not doing enough to quickly remove such information from its social network.
Talking could have protected himself more. Large AWS customers can take out more extensive agreements, giving them more time to become compliant if they end up breaking the rules.
Gartner analyst Lydia Leong explained this difference in a blog post: “Thirty days is a common time period specified as the cure period in contracts (and is the cure period in the standard AWS enterprise contract), but the cloud provider click agreements (such as the AWS customer contract) normally do not have a solution. period, allowing immediate action at the discretion of the supplier, ”she wrote.
Other cloud providers have their own terms that their customers must follow. However, AWS now has millions of customers and more of the cloud infrastructure market than any other supplier. As a result, many organizations could be exposed to the kind of treatment Parler has received, rare as it is, if they don’t behave according to Amazon’s standards.
Parler recognized the downsides of being beholden to a cloud provider, but in the end, the cloud offering for flexibility was too appealing to ignore. “Personally, I’m very anti-cloud and anti-centralization, although AWS has its place for high-burst traffic,” wrote Alexander Blair, CTO of Parler. a publication on the service.
Speak and Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.