A major internet outage caused multiple well-known websites to crash Tuesday morning, including Amazon, HBO Max, and Reddit. The problems were reportedly due to issues experienced by the cloud computing provider Fastly, which identified concerns within its global content delivery network (CDN) and was in the process of implementing a fix.
“We identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions across our POPs globally and have disabled that configuration,” Fastly announced in a statement.
“Our global network is coming back online,” Fastly added, providing a status update link.
We identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions across our POPs globally and have disabled that configuration. Our global network is coming back online. Continued status is available at https://t.co/RIQWX0LWwl
— Fastly (@fastly) June 8, 2021
“The issues began at around 11am BST and lasted for an hour,” according to the BBC. Among the websites impacted were The New York Times, PayPal, CNN, Twitch, Hulu, Vimeo, BBC.com, Shopify, the Financial Times, and The Guardian, as well as specific services, such as Twitter’s emoji feature.
“Rather than isolated incidents affecting individual sites, it turned out this was a massive outage that had brought much of the internet to its knees,” reported CNET. “Across the world, people were receiving Error: 503 messages as they tried to access sites, including some vital services, such as the UK’s government’s gov.uk web properties.”
Fastly is based in San Francisco, and in 2017 “it launched an edge cloud platform designed to bring websites closer to the people who use them.”
As CNET explained, “Effectively this means that if you’re accessing a website hosted in another country, it will store some of that website closer to you so that there’s no need to waste bandwidth by going to fetch all of that website’s content from far away every time you need it.”
While this does mean that website loading times are greatly improved — with Fastly claiming that Buzzfeed loads 50% faster and The New York Times is able to “simultaneously handle 2 million readers on election night” — Fastly’s position connecting the server-side and client-side means that any failures can result in entire websites crashing or appearing unavailable to users.
Similar crashes have occurred in the past. In November 2020, for example, an Amazon Web Services outage led to a breakdown of “smart-home” technology.
For example, Amazon’s “Ring” smart doorbells stopped working, with the company announcing, “We are aware of a service interruption impacting Ring,” and that they “apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience and understanding.”
Then, in December 2020, a service outage in Google’s infrastructure caused Google applications to shut down, with features such as YouTube, Gmail, and Google Docs unavailable.
“The outage started shortly before noon UK time, lasting more than half an hour before services were restored,” reported the BBC at the time. “Users around the world reported problems with Gmail, Google Drive, the Android Play Store, Maps and more.”
“Today, at 3.47AM PT Google experienced an authentication system outage for approximately 45 minutes due to an internal storage quota issue,” Google Cloud announced. “This was resolved at 4:32AM PT, and all services are now restored.”
Today, at 3.47AM PT Google experienced an authentication system outage for approximately 45 minutes due to an internal storage quota issue. This was resolved at 4:32AM PT, and all services are now restored.
— Google Cloud (@googlecloud) December 14, 2020