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Amazon Web Services Cloud Glitch: Outage Breaks Part Of The Internet, But It's Fine Now

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Amazon says it resolved an issue that caused considerable outage on its cloud storage service, wreaking havoc among popular online services.

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, a massive disruption started at an East Coast location and affected the operations of numerous Amazon companies, ranging from corporate software makers to media companies and everything in between.

Cloud Reliance

The four-hour outage at the cloud computing division of Amazon Web Services had a negative impact on thousands of websites across the United States, further proving how essential the cloud has become for the internet economy. Enterprises move their computing processes and data from their premises to Amazon's data centers or other cloud services, and cloud service disruptions take a massive toll on the operation.

Data centers such as Amazon's and others web behemoths typically tout high reliability, but these disruptions, albeit rare, go to show how far-reaching such data center glitches can be.

Amazon offered constant updates on Twitter on Tuesday, keeping clients up to date with the recovery process, and eventually announced that the dashboard was back up and running.

It further said that it continued to experience some issues with S3, which is its oldest offering. S3 stores the data that powers many web applications and a slew of complex AWS functions.

"We continue to experience high error rates with S3 in US-East-1, which is impacting some other AWS services," said Amazon.

"For S3, we believe we understand root cause and are working hard at repairing. Future updates across all services will be on dashboard," it added.

AWS Outage Causes Major Disruption

The disruption affected major sites such as Netflix, Pinterest and Buzzfeed, as well as numerous other sites big and small, for which AWS provides cloud-based storage and web services so they don't need to have their own server farms. AWS allows companies to quickly deploy computing power without investing in their own infrastructure, but a disruption like the one on Tuesday causes major ripples across the internet.

The outage at one of AWS's main storage system did not affect all AWS clients, but it nevertheless was quite extensive and those affected faced slowdowns as a large part of the AWS S3 system went down.

Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti estimates that the outage may have affected as many as 100,000 sites, and the severity of the occurrence magnified due to the popularity of AWS — the largest cloud provider.

At the same time, the magnitude of the problem was also affected by the geography of the incident, since the outage occurred in the US-East-1 conglomeration of data centers. The US-East-1 is not only a massive region, but it's also where new services and capabilities start out, points out Gartner analyst Lydia Leong.

Even so, the outage will most likely neither affect cloud adoption rates nor undermine AWS's competitive place against rivals. The AWS service has since recovered from the outage and resumed its normal operations. It remains unclear just what caused the outage in the first place, but analysts believe that it may stem from a software issue rather than a hardware one.

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