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Amazon S3 Cloud Outage Impacts High Profile Websites

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

A number of well known websites impacted after a partial failure of Amazon’s cloud hosting platform

Well known websites such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission experienced difficulties on Tuesday after Amazon’s S3 cloud service suffered an outage

Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) hosting service provides a range of cloud services to customers including hosting, data storage and backup for a number of high profile websites and mobile apps.

The outage highlights the dependence of many organisations on Amazon Web Services, and the importance of continuous availability of these cloud platforms.

Fail 2 - ShutterStock: © kaarstenS3 Outage

The Amazon interruption began at 12:35 EST n Tuesday and last for approximately four hours. The impact was mostly felt on the US East Coast, with websites such as Adobe, Medium, Slack, Splitwise, Trello, the US Securities and Exchange Commission all impacted.

A number of Apple services were also said to have been affected, and Amazon was even unable to update its service health dashboard during the first few hours of the glitch.

“We have now repaired the ability to update the service health dashboard,” Amazon said later. “The service updates are below. We continue to experience high error rates with S3 in US-EAST-1, which is impacting various AWS services. We are working hard at repairing S3, believe we understand root cause, and are working on implementing what we believe will remediate the issue.

“As of 1:49 PM PST, we are fully recovered for operations for adding new objects in S3, which was our last operation showing a high error rate,” it later added. “The Amazon S3 service is operating normally.”

However Amazon did not disclose the reason for the outage.

Speaking to Silicon, Chuck Dubuque, VP of product and solution marketing at Tintri said: “In the financial markets, investors protect themselves from volatility by diversifying. The same might hold true for companies and organisations that rely on the cloud. The S3 outage yesterday demonstrates the risks of putting all your eggs into one cart or cloud.

“Moreover, it’s difficult to engineer even cloud native applications for public cloud SLAs as seen by yesterday’s events. It’s even more complex to deploy and manage enterprise applications that weren’t designed for the cloud to begin with. If nothing else, the S3 outages will cause some businesses to reconsider a diversified environment—that includes enterprise cloud—to reduce their risks.”

Past Outages

Outages like this happen periodically even for big name firms, and are triggered by a range of reasons including some seemingly mundane events such as a car crash.

This time last year for example many of Amazon’s top websites suffered an unexplained outage overnight.

Last year a study from  business ISP Beaming found that two-thirds of the UK’s businesses had been affected by Internet connection issues over the last year, costing them £12.3 billion in lost productivity and extra overtime

Quiz: How much do you know about Amazon Web Services?