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Companies unable to fully operate

Amazon web server crash ‘cripples’ websites

Thousands of websites and web services around the world ground to a halt at lunchtime on Tuesday after an outage which was traced back to Amazon.

Just after 1pm (EST)  the problems at Amazon Web Services (AWS) brought some companies to a standstill, while others were left to apologise to customers and other users for disruption to services.

Because so many businesses depend on Amazon’s cloud storage, a single outage was able to cripple the internet in a matter of minutes.

Mallzee, the Edinburgh-based shopping app, was faced with problems accepting orders from customers.

Mailchimp, which is used widely to distribute emails globally, was suffering intermittent delivery problems.

One furious US internet site stated: “While it’s unclear if hackers are behind this AWS outage, lots of work days are being ruined for people who depend on the internet to do their jobs.”

 

Mallzee tweet

 

It later emerged that the outage was caused by a failure of Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) at its Northern Virginia facility.

S3 stores files and data for companies on remote servers. It is used for everything from building websites and apps to storing images, customer data and customer transactions.

The problem affected both “front-end” operations — meaning the websites and apps that users see — and back-end data processing that takes place out of sight.

 

Mailchimp tweet

 

Ironically,  Is it down right right now? and Down Detector, sites that provide information on whether other sites are down, were also struggling to stay online.

The outage also affected AWS clients that use cloud storage.

By mid-afternoon Amazon issued a statement updating those demanding information.

“We have now repaired the ability to update the service health dashboard… We continue to experience high error rates with S3 in US-EAST-1, which is impacting various AWS services,” it said.

“We are working hard at repairing S3, believe we understand root cause, and are working on implementing what we believe will remediate the issue.”

Amazon Web Services has been providing on-demand computing infrastructure to customers ranging from startups to large companies.

The Amazon cloud makes it possible to build online businesses without buying tons of IT hardware. Netflix, despite building its own worldwide content delivery network, relies on Amazon for  many key business operations.

An Amazon outage in 2011 took down sites including Reddit, Foursquare, and Quora.

 

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