US Storms Take Down Amazon Web Services

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Instagram and Netflix went offline as lightning took out Amazon’s Web Services

Amazon Web Services in the US was hit by severe storms on Friday, taking down Instagram, Netflix and others, whilst more than two million Americans were left without electricity.

The lightning storms which have lashed the Eastern part of the United States interrupted power to Amazon’s Ashburn, North Virginia data centre for half an hour, and services like Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest were affected for longer as Amaon engineers struggled to restore lost virtual machines. This follows an earlier outage in June.

Amazon Web Services return

The incident is perhaps not a surprise given the extreme weather in the Eastern US which killed two people, but it showed the extent to which cloud services depend on electricity supplies, and will spur efforts to reduce data centres’ dependence on outside power.

Amazon reported problems at 08.30 (Pacific Tiome), saying: “We can confirm that a large number of instances in a single Availability Zone have lost power due to electrical storms in the area. We are actively working to restore power”.

Most issues were fixed by the evening, although Instagram remained out of action until midday on Saturday (Pacific Time).

The problem caused storage failures for some instances on the service which Amazon could not recover. It posted information to help customers restore their databases.

Last summer lightning brought down both Amazon and Microsoft clouds, and  a previous outage took out some social media startups for days. To our surprise, our readers were not fazed by this at all.

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