Amazon’s cloud computing network on Tuesday had a major outage that significantly disrupted services of major companies in the U.S. for more than 5 hours.
The shutdown of the Amazon Web Services which majorly affected the eastern U.S. had a vast impact on airline reservations and auto dealerships, payment apps, video streaming services, and even Amazon’s own massive e-commerce operation. Renowned journals like The Associated Press had their publishing system inoperable for much of the day, limiting its ability to publish its news report.
Amazon itself has not been explicit on what exactly went wrong and instead limited its customer relations to just terse technical explanations on an Amazon Web Service (AWS) dashboard with a brief statement from Richard Rocha, Amazon spokesperson acknowledging that the outage had affected Amazon’s own warehouse and delivery operation but noted the company was “working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”
The company in a post on the AWS status page that it had “mitigated” the underlying problem responsible for the outage, but failed to describe the exact cause.
Carl Malamud, a technologist and public date access activist said the AWS outage and its implications shows how much Big Tech has warped the internet, which was originally designed as a distributed and decentralized network intended to survive mass disasters such as nuclear attack.
“When we put everything in one place, be it Amazon’s cloud or Facebook’s monolith, we’re violating that fundamental principle,” said Malamud, who developed the internet’s first radio station and later put a vital U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission database online. “We saw that when Facebook became the instrument of a massive disinformation campaign, we just saw that today with the Amazon failure.”
Customers who tried to book or change trips with Delta Air Lines unsuccessfully tried connecting to the airline. “Delta is working quickly to restore functionality to our AWS-supported phone lines,” said spokesperson Morgan Durrant. The airline apologized for the difficulty while it advised it customers to use its website or mobile app instead.
It is not clear if the outage will affect authorities as the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in an email response to questions, said that it was working with Amazon “to understand any potential impacts this outage may have for federal agencies or other partners.”
Amazon Web Services, formerly run by Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, has the cloud-service operation turning to a huge profit center for Amazon. According to a report by Synergy Research, AWS holds roughly a third of the global $152 billion market for cloud services, more than the shares of rivals Microsoft and Google, combined.