Why EBS Cannot Work

See this detailed post from Joyent regarding the recent Amazon EBS outage and the lucid comments from Ycombinator Hacker News.

I don’t know how NFS keeps coming up. It’s an entirely different use case. It doesn’t help the credibility of a critique on networked block storage to harp on a vendor specific implementation of a technology that doesn’t even operate in the same sphere.

An NFS server is very simple. With NFS on it’s own VLAN, and some very basic QoS, there’s no reason an NFS server should be the weak point in your infrastructure. Especially since it’s resilient to disconnection on a flaky network.

If you’re looking for 100% availability, sure, NFS is probably not the answer. If on the other hand you’re running a website, and would rather trade a few bad requests for high-availability and portability, then NFS can be a great fit.

None of that has anything to do with EBS or block-storage though.

Joyent’s position is that iSCSI was flaky for them because of unpredictable loads on under-performing equipment. The situation would degrade to the point that they could only attach a couple VM hosts to a pair of servers for example, and they were slicing the LUNs on the host, losing the flexibility networked block-storage provides for portability between systems.


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