The cloud in 2021: 21 game-changing outages, security issues, and highlights

Whew, what a year! From data centers going up in flames to security vulnerabilities that have been there for years to cloud providers flexing their influence.

At the same time, the industry has never been stronger as new cloud-native technologies and increased automation rose to prominence.

Let’s take a look back at the most interesting, thought-provoking, and downright jaw-dropping developments in the cloud world.

Jump through the list to what interests you most:

Top 5 cloud outages that shook our world

December 7, 2021 – AWS us-east-1 suffers from an outage

One of the mission-critical AWS cloud units us-east-1 was hit with an outage that took down services like Disney+, Netflix, Slack, Ticketmaster, stock trading app Robinhood, and the crypto exchange Coinbase. Key internal tools like Flex and AtoZ apps used by Amazon warehouse and delivery workers were affected as well.

November 16, 2021 – Google Cloud finds a networking issue

Google Cloud went down in mid-November and with it took services like Home Depot, Snap, and Spotify. What caused the outage? A glitch in a network configuration. Yet another scenario showing that betting on a single provider to manage all your apps is pretty risky.

​​October 4, 2021 – Facebook & Co. goes down spectacularly

Facebook and its subsidiaries – Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Mapillary, and Oculus – became unavailable for 6 to 7 hours and the world went crazy. Many desperate users flocked to Twitter, Discord, Signal, and Telegram and this resulted in disruptions on these apps’ servers.

June 10, 2021 – One European AWS availability zone causes a stir

The AWS EU-Central region experienced a major outage in EUC_AZ-1 due to connectivity problems “caused by an increase in ambient temperature.” The outage lasted three hours and it turned out to be caused by the failure of a control system that disabled multiple air handlers in the affected Availability Zone. Simple, isn’t it?

March 10, 2021 – OVHcloud gets burned down (but then files for IPO)

The largest Europe-based cloud service provider OVHcloud saw its SBG2 data center in Strasbourg burn down, damaging the SBG1 data center as well. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the incident led to website and email outages among many clients. Still, this didn’t deter the company from filing for IPO later that year.

5 security vulnerabilities that stole the show

Log4j catches us all by surprise

2021 ended with a bang when a vulnerability in the log4j open source logging library was discovered. Its impact is massive and will affect the industry for years. The library is embedded practically everywhere, including the AWS S3 storage service and software solutions you might be using every day.  

A series of Microsoft vulnerabilities sees the light

Microsoft had one hell of a ride this year security-wise. In 2021, the giant released a patch for at least one zero-day vulnerability each month (except for May). Some important vulnerabilities were identified across Microsoft’s operating systems, platforms, and applications, potentially exposing their customers to risk and leading to attacks carried out on companies like SolarWinds, Colonial Pipeline, and HAFNIUM. 

Cosmos DB leaves the door open to attackers for years

By the end of August, the “worst cloud vulnerability you can imagine” was discovered in Microsoft Azure. It impacted 30% of Cosmos DB customers. The service gave read/write access to every database to attackers who exploited the bug. It was there for “at least several months, possibly years.”

Spectacular data breaches at Facebook and LinkedIn

A security researcher uncovered a massive leaked database of 533 million Facebook accounts, with personal information of users across the US, UK, and India. Then someone else found the personal data of 700 million LinkedIn users (almost 93% of the platform members) on sale online. 

On-prem turns out to be a dangerous thing

Running email on your own server in 2021 is a risky business when Chinese hackers are on the lookout for loopholes. They found one in Microsoft Exchange. Any company running a copy of the software may have been hacked – we’re talking about 30k businesses getting affected! This just shows that moving to the cloud is a smart move, despite all the other security issues we mentioned above!

5 eye-opening insights from research into the cloud

Who owns the public cloud 

A study from Canalys showed that 61% of public cloud services come from the big three providers: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. AWS now accounts for 31% of global cloud infrastructure spending, generating some $59 billion per year of revenue (that’s more than the revenue of HP or Lenovo!).

Cloud-native is on the rise

HashiCorp showed that in response to COVID-19, many companies embraced cloud-native technologies like:

  • Infrastructure as Code (49%), 
  • container orchestration (41%), 
  • network infrastructure automation (33%), 
  • and said self-service infrastructure (32%).

Covid's cloud impact chartSource: HashiCorp

Single and private clouds were out 

A study from IBM revealed that both infrastructure types dropped from 29% in 2019 to only 2% in 2021. Who won the race? Hybrid cloud and multi cloud! 

Companies start using automation to control the rising cloud costs

The Flexera State of the Cloud Report gave a glimpse of how companies are dealing with their rising cloud bills. Many of them turn to automation like automated policies that shut workloads down after hours (49%) and rightsize virtual machines (48%).   

But they still have a long way to go in 2022

The microsurvey from the CNCF and FinOps found that cloud and Kubernetes-related bills continue to grow. Still, companies don’t have the right tools in place to make informed estimations and eliminate cloud waste. Nearly 45% of them said their monitoring strategy relied on estimations, almost 25% admitted to having no solution at all. 

Kubernetes related spend growthSource: CNCF and FinOps

3 things the cloud industry talked about

AWS kicks Parler out

2021 also started with a bang. A group representing Amazon employees called for the company’s cloud unit to stop providing services to Parler, the social network used by the rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. AWS cut Parler off, and other major providers closed the door in its face as well – showing their decision-making power in the process.

The Pentagon cancels the JEDI contract with Microsoft 

This contract could have been worth as much as $10 billion, but the Pentagon decided to check out the deals from other cloud service providers, citing the evolution of the cloud landscape as the reason why. Perhaps the Pentagon is going multi cloud?

The one thing that didn’t change? It’s still all about chips

In 2021, the tech industry and beyond faced a global chip shortage as the chip supply chain of the pandemic times simply couldn’t cope with the increased demand. This affected companies from Apple to BMW to Whirlpool. On the other hand, lots of effort (and money) poured into independent chip projects – like Apple’s M2, Amazon designing its own networking chips, and Nvidia trying to buy Arm for $40 billion for over a year now.

3 biggest milestones we achieved at CAST AI

Support for all 3 major cloud providers

The CAST AI platform now supports Kubernetes on all the three major cloud providers: AWS (EKS, Kops), Google Cloud Platform (GKE), and Microsoft Azure (AKS).

Instant Rebalancing

Our team built a feature that helps you achieve in minutes what others take months to get to. Automatically bring your cluster to an ideal state and reduce your cloud compute costs by 50% or more, within minutes.

Securing $10 million for further growth

To deliver on our promise of fully autonomous cloud cost optimization for Kubernetes, we raised $10 million in a Series A round led by the San Francisco-based Cota Capital, with Samsung Next and other investors participating.

To get a good sense of what CAST AI can do for you – tune in to our upcoming webinar!




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