Amazon’s server outage highlights the major problem with today’s internet

When the world’s biggest websites go down, people start noticing who holds the plug.

For a few hours yesterday, Amazon’s Simple Storage Solution (S3) cloud service experienced what the company called “high error rates”. In practice, this meant two things. Firstly, many of the world’s biggest websites – such as Medium, Business Insider, Imgur, and Quora – went down, and secondly, quite a lot of people realised just how big Amazon is.

RELATED: How did an Amazon glitch leave people literally in the dark?

Far from just a website on which you buy your replacement toothbrush heads, Amazon has its fingers in many technological pies, from e-readers and smart speakers to Amazon Web Services (AWS) – the section of the company which rents cloud computing services. In practice, this means that 150,000 sites and services – including Netflix and Spotify – rely on Amazon to work.

This isn’t, in itself, a bad thing; it is much easier for smaller companies to use Amazon’s services than attempt to run their own, and the fact Amazon’s last major outage was in 2015 is actually quite impressive. But yesterday’s events do highlight one of the biggest problems about today’s internet, namely: eggs, basket, all in one.

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In practice, this means that 150,000 sites and services – including Netflix and Spotify – rely on Amazon to work

Over the last few years, a handful of truly gigantic corporations (I don’t even have to name them for you to know who they are) have monopolised the internet. In exchange for convenience, we have handed our entire online lives over to a few giants, and blindly trusted them to behave themselves. We have allowed them to crush and absorb their competitors, and use their power to promote themselves above all others.

Earlier this week, Google’s sister company Jigsaw launched its online troll fighting AI, Perspective.

Over the last few months, it seems we have begun to open our eyes to the power of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. In January, Fark.com complained that Google Adsense turned off the site’s adverts – effectively cutting off its revenue – after, it alleged, Google mistakenly identified an image on Fark as a policy violation.

Source: New Statesman

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How did an Amazon glitch leave people literally in the dark?

Tuesday’s Amazon Web Services mega-outage knocked offline not only websites big and small, by yanking away their backend storage, but also knackered apps and Internet of Things gadgets relying on the technology.

In fact, the five-hour breakdown was so bad, Amazon couldn’t even update its own AWS status dashboard: its red warning icons were stranded, hosted on the broken-down side of the cloud.

Essentially, S3 buckets in the US-East-1 region in northern Virginia, US, became inaccessible at about 0945 PST (1745 UTC). Software, from web apps to smartphone applications, relying on this cloud-based storage quickly broke, taking out a sizable chunk of the internet as we know it.

AWS has many regions, and US-East-1 is just one of them. Developers are supposed to spread their applications over different data centers so when one region goes TITSUP, it doesn’t take your whole platform down. For various reasons – from the fact that programmers find distributed computing hard to the costs involved – this redundancy isn’t always coded in. And so here we are.

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The carnage on Tuesday midday, Pacific Time, as shown on the AWS dashboard customers see after logging in

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things that fell over or were wobbly today, due to the S3 downtime, but here’s a start: Docker’s Registry Hub, Trello, Travis CI, GitHub and GitLab, Quora, Medium, Signal, Slack, Imgur, Twitch.tv, Razer, heaps of publications that stored images and other media in S3, Adobe’s cloud, Zendesk, Heroku, Coursera, Bitbucket, Autodesk’s cloud, Twilio, Mailchimp, Citrix, Expedia, Flipboard, and Yahoo! Mail (which you probably shouldn’t be using anyway). Readers also reported that Zoom.us and some Salesforce.com services were having problems, as were Xero, SiriusXM, and Strava. Another reader reports being unable to order coffee because the Hey You app was broken.

Launching new EC2 instances in the broken AWS region was also impossible at one point, we’re told. Other AWS services knackered in the data center include: Elastic File System and Elastic Load Balancing, Simple Email Service, Relational Database Service, Lambda, Elastic MapReduce and Elastic Beanstalk.

Source: The Register

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