Amazon Cloud Outage Shows Weak Ties In Internet Concentration

A major outage in Amazon’s cloud computing network on Tuesday severely disrupted the services of a wide range of U.S. businesses for more than five hours, the latest sign of concentration in the business of making the internet work.

The incident at Amazon Web Services (AWS) primarily affected the eastern United States, but always impacted everything from airline and car dealership reservations to payment apps and video streaming services. to Amazon’s own massive e-commerce operation. This included the Associated Press, whose publishing system was inoperative for much of the day, severely limiting its ability to publish its information report.

Amazon still hasn’t said anything about exactly what went wrong. In fact, the company limited its communications on Tuesday to terse technical explanations on an AWS dashboard and a brief statement issued by spokesperson Richard Rocha who admitted the outage affected the own warehouse and delivery operations. from Amazon, but said the company “was working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

About five hours after many businesses and other organizations began reporting issues, the company said in an article on the AWS status page that it had “mitigated” the underlying issue causing the outage. , which she did not describe. It took some affected companies extra hours to thoroughly check their systems and restart their own services.

Amazon Web Services was previously headed by Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, ​​who took over from founder Jeff Bezos in July. The cloud service operation is a huge profit center for Amazon. It has about a third of the $ 152 billion cloud services market, according to a Synergy Research report – a larger share than its closest rivals, Microsoft and Google, combined.

For public data access technologist and activist Carl Malamud, the AWS outage highlights how Big Tech has warped the Internet, which was originally conceived as a distributed, decentralized network meant to survive mass disasters such as a nuclear attack.

“When we put everything in one place, whether it’s Amazon’s cloud or Facebook’s monolith, we violate that fundamental principle,” said Mr. Malamud, who developed the first internet radio station and then put a vital United States Securities and Exchange Commission database online. . “We saw that when Facebook became the instrument of a massive disinformation campaign, we just saw it today with the failure of Amazon.”

Widespread and often lengthy breakdowns resulting from one-off failures seem increasingly common. In June, behind-the-scenes content distributor Fastly suffered a malfunction that briefly took down dozens of major websites, including CNN, the New York Times and the UK government’s homepage.

Then, in October, Facebook – now known as Meta Platforms – blamed a “flawed configuration change” for a multi-hour global outage that took down Instagram and WhatsApp in addition to its titular platform.

This time, the problems started mid-morning on the US east coast, said Doug Madory, director of internet analytics at Kentik Inc, a network intelligence firm. Netflix was one of the biggest names affected; Kentik saw a 26% drop in traffic to the streaming service.

Customers trying to book or modify trips with Delta Air Lines had difficulty connecting with the airline. “Delta is working quickly to restore the functionality of our AWS-supported phone lines,” said spokesperson Morgan Durrant. The airline apologized and encouraged customers to use its website or mobile app instead.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines said it switched to West Coast servers after some airport-based systems were affected by the outage. Customers were still reporting outages to DownDetector, a popular clearinghouse for user crash reports, more than three hours after they started. Southwest spokesman Brian Parrish said there had been no major flight disruptions.

Toyota spokesman Scott Vazin said the company’s eastern region of the United States for dealer services has declined. The company offers applications that access inventory data, monthly payment calculators, service bulletins, and more. More than 20 applications have been affected.

Also according to DownDetector, people trying to use Instacart, Venmo, Kindle, Roku, and Disney + have reported issues. The McDonald’s app was also down. But American, United, Alaska and JetBlue airlines were not affected.

Mr Mador said he saw no reason to suspect any harmful activity. He said the recent cluster of major outages reflects the complexity of the networking industry. “More and more, these outages end up being the product of the automation and centralization of administration,” he said. “This ends up leading to failures that are difficult to avoid completely due to operational complexity, but which have a huge impact when they do occur. “

It was not known how, or if, the blackout affected the federal government. The US Agency for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security said in an email response to questions it was working with Amazon “to understand the potential impacts this outage could have on federal agencies or other partners.”

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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