System failures can happen for a whole variety of reasons. Instead of increasing downtime while searching for the root cause, Amazon has announced a new feature on its EC2 node simply entitled “Auto recovery.” The new auto recovery functionality goes into the hypervisor and checks on key indicators that determine whether or not the computing instance is functioning correctly. Auto recovery checks for things such as a network link, a power failure, host issues and more.
If there happens to be a failure, your instance is automatically regenerated while your server instance itself retains all of the functionality that it had before the incident. Amazon reiterates that auto recovered servers will retain their instance ID, IP addresses, attached storage and all of the other properties as if incident didn’t occur. Auto recovery can be configured by configured simply using the Amazon Recover your Instance documentation.
Jeff Barr, the Amazon Technical Evangelist, blogged about the new functionality and he even shows AWS users how to setup and configure the “Recover this instance” functionality. Barr writes, “This feature is currently available for the C3, C4, M3, R3, and T2 instance types running in the US East (Northern Virginia) region; we plan to make it available in other regions as quickly as possible. The instances must be running within a VPC, must use EBS-backed storage, but cannot be Dedicated Instances.”
Amazon is one of the first big cloud provider to implement self healing capabilities (Microsoft Azure has had something like this since 2013). One of the neat things about Amazon’s Auto Recovery functionality is that your server instance could be spun up on new hardware if needed. While none of the other large IaaS providers currently have a self-healing functionality, cloud analysts expect providers such as Azure and Google to retaliate by whipping up their own interpretations of cloud server auto recovery in efforts to give their clients additional peace of mind.