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Robot vacuums do not start. Doorbell cameras have stopped monitoring package thieves, although some of those deliveries have been canceled anyway. Netflix and Disney movies have been cut short, and the Associated Press has struggled to publish the news.

A major outage of Amazon’s cloud computing network on December 7 severely disrupted the services of a wide range of U.S. businesses for hours, raising questions about the vulnerability of the Internet and its concentration in the hands of a few companies. .

This uncertainty was underscored on Wednesday when Amazon reported another outage which, while much shorter and less disruptive than the December 7 issue, still created problems for many of its cloud customers. On a status dashboard For the service, Amazon reported that a power outage in one of its data centers disrupted customers whose jobs were running on its servers.

Power was restored after about 45 minutes, although the company said some customers continued to experience problems nearly 12 hours after the outage. Hardware failures in the affected data center have forced some Amazon customers to completely restart their cloud-based systems.


Amazon has still not said anything about what, exactly, went wrong with the outage in early December. The company limited its communications at the time to terse technical explanations on an Amazon Web Services dashboard and a brief statement issued by spokesperson Richard Rocha who admitted that the outage affected the own warehouse and Amazon’s delivery operations, but said the company “was working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.” He did not immediately respond to further questions on Wednesday.

The incident at Amazon Web Services 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.


Amazon Web Services is a cloud service operation – it stores its customers’ data, runs their online businesses, and more – and a huge profit center for Amazon. It has about 40% of the global $ 64 billion cloud infrastructure market, a larger share than its closest rivals Microsoft, Alibaba and Google combined, according to research firm Gartner.

It was previously headed by Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, ​​who took over from founder Jeff Bezos in July.


Some cybersecurity experts have for years warned of the potentially dire consequences of allowing a handful of large tech companies to dominate key internet operations.

“The latest AWS outage is a prime example of the danger of a centralized network infrastructure,” said Sean O’Brien, guest lecturer in cybersecurity at Yale Law School. “Although most people who browse the Internet or use an app don’t know it, Amazon is integrated into most of the apps and websites they use every day. O’Brien said it was important to build a new network model that resembles the Internet’s early peer-to-peer roots. Big blackouts have already taken huge swathes of the world offline, as happened during an incident on Facebook in October.

Even in the current model, companies have some options to distribute their services among different cloud providers, although this can be complicated, or at least to ensure that they can move their services to another region managed by the same. provider. Tuesday’s blackout primarily affected Amazon’s “US East 1” region.

“Which meant if you had critical systems only available in that region, you were in trouble,” said Servaas Verbiest, chief cloud evangelist at Sungard Availability Services. “If you have widely adopted the AWS ecosystem and are forced to use only their services and features, you need to make sure you balance your workloads across regions. “


Yes. The last major AWS outage was in November 2020. There have been many other disruptive and lengthy internet outages involving other vendors. In June, behind-the-scenes content distributor Fastly suffered a failure that briefly took down dozens of major websites, including CNN, the New York Times and the UK government’s homepage. Another this month supplier concerned Akamai during rush hour in Asia in June.

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


It was not clear how or if Tuesday’s blackout affected governments, but many of them also rely on Amazon and its rivals.

Among the most influential organizations to rethink its approach of relying on a single cloud provider was the Pentagon, which in July canceled a contested cloud computing contract with Microsoft that could have ended up being worth $ 10 billion. Instead, it will pursue a deal with Microsoft and Amazon and possibly other cloud service providers like Google, Oracle, and IBM.

Earlier this year, the National Security Agency awarded Amazon a contract worth an estimated $ 10 billion to be the sole manager of the NSA’s own migration to cloud computing. The contract is known by its agency code name “Wild and Stormy”. The General Accountability Office backed a protest from Microsoft in October, saying parts of the NSA’s decision were “unreasonable”, although the entire decision is being classified.


AP writer Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report.

Matt O’Brien and Frank Bajak, The Associated Press

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