Engine Yard is coming out with new custom services today that played a pretty important role in helping its customers avoid the now historic Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage last week.

It was 1 a.m. PST on April 21 when the first notifications started surfacing that there was a problem with the AWS East region out of northern Virginia. Engine Yard uses AWS as its infrastructure provider, much like Heroku, another Ruby-on-Rails platform. An Engine Yard support technician in Israel first saw the problem and alerted the support team that something was wrong. Later that morning, the Engine Yard team made the decision to use a custom service they had developed that had not yet gone live.

Luckily, it worked and gave customers a way to move to the AWS West zone. It required the help of customer support. It was a risk. They had no idea how the service would fare. But in the end, it was a risk worth taking. Engine Yard customers had some downtime at the start of the crisis but were soon up and running once they moved to the West region. Engine Yard averted a major outage.

That is in stark contrast to Heroku, which had prolonged outages culminating yesterday with an explanation and apology to its customers for the major service disruption.

New Features

EngineYard is launching new features today that includes the custom service that allows customers to have a backup in a second region.

“We can build custom solutions so environments are replicated so failover can happen in a more regular way,” said Tom Mornini, co-founder and CTO in an interview yesterday.

The new features extends Engine Yard’s global reach. Customers now have the choice of any AWS region. Before, Engine Yard was only available in the US-East region. Now the service is available in all five AWS regions, which include a second on the North America West coast; one in Ireland and two in the Asia Pacific region (Singapore and Japan.)

New Collaboration Features

Engine Yard is also announcing today the availability of new collaborative features that provide controls for a developer to manage multiple projects. In that role, the developer can give permissions, allowing access to other people. Previously, there was one user name and password. People would have to share the same credentials, creating the spectre of anonymous users.


Engine Yard is looking pretty good following the AWS outage. It builds on some great success. The company, which started in 2006, now has 2,000 paying customers. Revenues are strong and it is looking pretty impressive following the AWS outage.

For his part, Mornini is philosophical. The company had developed this capability that was available just in time. It was risky to unveil it but it worked.

And in the end, that was the difference between success and failure.