Netflix, Instagram, and Pinterest websites were also affected by Amazon's recent outage.
"Netflix could have had Amazon duplicate its instance in every data center, but that would be prohibitively expensive," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. "But, expect to pay more for that kind of resiliency. There's a price to be paid for that kind of availability and there's no free lunch in the cloud."
While cloud data services are still in their infancy, eventually they will become so common that they'll be considered a utility, just as electricity and telephony is today, said Parveen Jain, CEO of RedSeal Networks, which sells software for monitoring the health of companies' IT infrastructure.
"I think the service providers have to make sure systems work uninterrupted as much as possible. They have to implement redundancy," Jain said. "As the government is transitioning to the cloud, and some of the largest enterprises are moving there as well, redundancy is a necessity."
Power outages like the one Amazon's AWS experienced are expected to become more frequent as global warming causes storms of all types to become more severe and heat waves to be more frequent and intense.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the vast majority of the U.S. is experiencing drought conditions.
So far this year, more than 23,000 high temperature records have been set, compared with 2,500 cold temperature records, according to NOAA. In past years, records for high and low temperatures were typically equal, said Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., which is also part of NOAA.
Brooks said global warming has been responsible for only about a half degree of temperature increase on average, but it doesn't take much of a temperature change to have an effect on weather conditions. And temperatures are expected to continue to rise over the next century.
"We're very confident that global temperatures have increased. That's a slam dunk," Brooks said. "And we can tell there are regional temperatures that have gone up significantly. We know we're setting a lot more high temperature records than low temperature records.
"When it rains, the rains will be more intense, but there will be longer gaps between rains," Brooks said. "The overall amount of rain has slightly gone up in much of the U.S. It's getting more concentrated into heavier rain events."
There is also meteorological modeling and "empirical evidence" that shows if nothing else changes, the strongest hurricanes will get stronger, according to Brooks.
"There are indications that wind speed and damages are tied pretty closely together. If we're talking a few meters per second more in wind speed, that could lead to 10% to 20% more damage. We may not notice the wind change all that much, but we may notice more damage," he said.
The "huggability" factor
"Last year was the worst year we've had in the history of disasters," said Al Berman, executive director of the Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI). "I've been doing this since the 1990s. I started out hearing this was going to be a very calm summer, and now I'm hearing it's not going to be." The DRI is a nonprofit organization that provides educational services and certification for contingency planning and business continuity professionals.