Wednesday 1 March 2017

Amazon Failure Affects Hundreds Of Thousands Of Websites


A widespread technical failure at Amazon Web Services hit hundreds of thousands of websites on Tuesday, including the US Securities and Exchange Commission and certain key Apple services, highlighting how the cloud company has become part of the backbone of the internet.

The failure, which began around 9:45am Pacific Time, lasted for more than four hours and centred around Amazon’s simple storage service, which is one of its most widely used features and a cornerstone for many web applications.

The outage temporarily blocked videos on Netflix and on Amazon’s own website, and caused sites such as Expedia, Slack and Snapchat to function poorly or not at all. Apple, which uses AWS, reported widespread technical problems at the same time, including with its App store, Apple Music and iCloud back-up.

“People are sort of realising how much of the internet relies on Amazon,” said Dave Bartoletti, an analyst at Forrester.

He added that AWS reliability was still considered to be high despite the outage. “This is not a trend in my view, the cloud is getting increasingly more reliable over time,” he said.

The fact that Amazon was able to identify the problem within two hours suggested that the problem was most likely a software glitch, said Mr Bartoletti. Amazon has not specified what caused the error.

Earlier in the day, the failure had even incapacitated AWS’s own services dashboard — making it impossible to display updates about which services had been affected — although this was subsequently fixed.

Amazon Web Services is the fastest-growing part of Amazon, with more than $12bn in revenues last year, and accounts for the majority of operating profits at the company. It is by far the largest public cloud provider in the US, with more than 10 times as much storage capacity as each of its nearest rivals, Microsoft and Google.

While AWS was an early leader in the cloud services market, it has had to contend with increasing competition from its US rivals, as well as competitors overseas such as AliCloud, which is owned by Alibaba.

AWS clients include the Central Intelligence Agency and dozens of Fortune 500 companies, including Deloitte, General Electric, Kellogg’s, Comcast and Condé Nast.

While the company often says that its reliability is greater than 99.99 per cent, the widespread problems on Tuesday underscore how an outage in one area can quickly ripple across the internet.



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