I've been hosting with various providers for almost 10 years. I'm now with SoftLayer and VERY happy. In those 10 years, I think I've had less combined downtime than AWS has had in the last 6 months.
The big advantage to running your apps in a nebulous "cloud", aside from the scaling up-down flexibility, is that in theory the difficulty in running a stable data center (or ideally set of load balanced, geo-graphically diverse data centers) is taken care of for you. If the reality is it's a trade-off between getting easy scaling, and losing decent uptime numbers, I'll take the "hassle" of adding/dropping servers at SoftLayer which are actually UP, and which I have good visibility into, any day.
Hopefully they'll get to that point eventually, but for now, I'm staying far far away.
9:26 AM PDT We're investigating an issue affecting requests. We'll continue to post updates here.
9:48 AM PDT Just wanted to provide an update that we are currently pursuing several paths of corrective action.
10:12 AM PDT We are continuing to pursue corrective action.
10:32 AM PDT A quick update that we believe this is an issue with the communication between several Amazon S3 internal components. We do not have an ETA at this time but will continue to keep you updated.
11:01 AM PDT We're currently in the process of testing a potential solution.
11:22 AM PDT Testing is still in progress. We're working very hard to restore service to our customers.
Has anyone else been doing the same? What have you been using?
Funny analogy, since all data centers DO have their own generators: they're not restaurants.
Instead of running their own generator (server and storage), for those startups who don't need to, they can use Amazon's power, AWS.
am I missing something here?
If your site is your personal blog or something not important, then downtime might not be a big deal. If you don't have the money for a backup electricity provider then you have to take your chances also.
Running things yourself is no guarantee of uptime.
The only real fix is to maintain fully redundant systems, which is extremely expensive. Otherwise, put up with downtime sometimes, because no other system will fully protect you.
Any estimates on total time of the outage?
This means that using 4 services that have a 99.9% SLA actually gives you an approx uptime of 99.6%. It doesn't sound like much as soon as you include something like Twitter you can really see the the whole uptime graph skew.
here's a piece of advice: start by leasing a couple of $75 USD per month servers. if you can, buy instead of lease. if you go bust, you can sell the hardware on ebay whereas with AWS you can't do any of that it's just money you're throwing away for 0 assets. AWS still needs to be managed, you still need sysadmins available 24/7 so you won't save any money there. the only thing AWS has going for it is provisioning. be smart and take advantage of that (eg. have your own physical infrastructure and be able to send some of the load the way of AWS if and when you need to).
If you need to first setup your site to work with a cloud, and then need to add a cloud balancer to guarantee uptime, maybe a regular network load balancer and old-fashioned solutions might be a better option.
At least then you have a tried and tested solution, not to mention you got it all under your control so things can actually be fixed.