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AWS server outage takes down Alexa, Instacart, Disney Plus, Venmo, more

The news: Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud servers went down yesterday, causing massive outages to chunks of the internet, per Insider. 

More on this: This was just the latest widespread outage of 2021, which has seen an increasing number of internet and smartphone service outages, exposing the fragility of an overburdened infrastructure that relies on a handful of quickly consolidating service providers. 

  • AWS is the leading cloud provider in the world with over 1 million active corporate users in 190 countries. AWS is made up of 62 availability zones across 20 geographical regions worldwide.
  • Downdetector.com, a website that tracks internet outages, began getting reports of AWS-hosted systems going offline starting at 11am EST and lasting into the evening.
  • Services running on AWS servers that went offline included Disney Plus and Delta Airlines; network games like PUBG, League of Legends, and Valorant; various Amazon services like Kindle ebooks, Amazon Music, and Ring cameras; as well as Tinder, Roku, Coinbase, and Venmo, among others. 
  • Amazon workers reported that the internal app used to track packages and route them also went down, leaving drivers and delivery vans idle.
  • The Big Tech company said it had identified the root cause and was “actively working towards recovery.” 

The problem: Network outages have a true and growing cost. A 2020 study from Opengear revealed that 31% of their 500 senior IT decision-makers lost more than $1 million in the past 12 months due to network outages. 

  • 23% of respondents reported a 25% or greater increase in network outages in the past five years. 
  • The proliferation of streaming services, online gaming platforms, IoT devices, and online services are also taking their toll on an internet infrastructure that simply can’t scale fast enough.
  • Recent outages have also been taking longer to resolve, indicating that massive growth is quickly becoming unmanageable. 

The big takeaway: The ripple effect of yesterday’s AWS outage will be felt on a global scale as systems get back online. 

  • The final cost and the broader effects of the outage are still being determined, but governments and businesses that rely purely on AWS servers might consider diversifying their cloud providers by colocating across server regions to counter unexpected outages.