Every great startup has an exciting and superb "founding story:" eBay and Pez dispensers, Apple and the garage tinkering of the two Steves, Microsoft and its BASIC, and so on. In the case of Amazon and its web services (AWS, albeit not quite a startup but close enough), the founding story goes something like this: aware that they had built up incredibly robust excess capacity for handling the peaks of e-commerce traffic on Amazon.com, the bright minds from Seattle decided to offer the same capacity to the rest of the web, kicking off the era of cloud computing for the thousands of customers that signed up for their triple threat of services: S3 (storage), EC2 (compute cyles), and SQS (messaging queues).
And yet, if AWS is using Amazon.com's excess capacity, why has S3 been down for most of the day, rendering most of the profile images and other assets of Web 2.0 tapestry completely inaccessible while at the same time I can't manage to find even a single 404 on Amazon.com? Wouldn't they be using the same infrastructure for their store that they sell to the rest of us?
Outages like this one will for sure fuel the fire of all of the startups trying to sell "cloud redundancy" to people who want to fail over seamlessly between providers.