AWS Paused The Internet

A total Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage would nearly take the world dark. We learned this on December 7, when everything from Christmas lights to banking apps tied to Amazon’s cloud services in one eastern U.S. region suddenly ceased to work.

Matt Schultz, senior service engineer at Microsoft, wrote on Twitter: “My parents are acutely aware of the AWS outage because their smart home lightbulbs aren’t responding to voice commands right now.”

Amazon drivers also took to Twitter to say “the outage is also hitting us and we can’t make deliveries, so we’re just playing karaoke.”

Devices tied to the Internet of Things — everything from light switches to vacuum cleaners and electronic blinds and video doorbells — stropped working.



AWS -- which offers cloud computing services to nearly a third of the Internet -- reported the outage on Tuesday morning.

The problem was related to several network devices flooded with a high volume of traffic from unknown sources. By 4:35 PST, the network device issues were resolved, and the company began working toward recovery of any impaired services, according to its Service Health Dashboard.

“Between 7:31 AM PST on December 7 and 2:20 AM PST on December 8, ECS experienced increased API error rates, latencies, and task launch failures,” the company posted on its Service Health Dashboard. “API error rates and latencies recovered by 6:10 PM PST on December 7. After this point, ECS customers using the EC2 launch type were fully recovered.”

By this morning, Amazon noted that the service is now operating normally. A small set of customers may still experience low levels of insufficient capacity errors. If so, they will be notified using the Personal Health Dashboard. There was no impact to running tasks during the event, though any ECS task that failed health checks would have been stopped.

The outage affected many services, including Amazon’s deliveries, but Pat Petriello, director of Amazon Strategy at digital agency Tinuiti, said: “To our knowledge the Amazon Web Services outage did not impact our ability to serve ads. We are also not aware of any organic searches being affected.”

What caused the outage? The “impairment of several network devices” led to multiple API errors, which in turn impacted AWS services such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Connect, DynamoDB, Athena, Chime, and others.

The outage became a reminder of the vulnerability that the advertising industry and ecommerce companies face. And just how many of their products and services are tied to tech companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Meta.

Aside from Amazon’s own services like Ring, the outage affected services from Disney, Zoom, Meetup, Netflix, Instacart, Delta Air Lines, Robinhood, and many more.

The outage created some buzz around multi-cloud strategies, rather than relying on one company for all cloud services. A multi-cloud strategy allows companies to select a variety of cloud services from different providers in the event of an outage.

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