Amazon Outage: The Aftermath

Amazon AWS S3 Storage Service had a major, widely reported, multi-hour outage yesterday in their US-East-1 data center. The S3 service in this particular data center was one of the very first services Amazon launched when it introduced cloud computing to the world more than 10 years ago. It’s grown exponentially since–storing over a trillion objects and servicing a million requests/second supporting thousands of web properties (this article alone lists over 100 well-known properties that were impacted by this outage).

Amazon has today published a description of what happened. The summary is that this was caused by human error. One operator, following a published run book procedure, mis-typed a command parameter setting a sequence of failure events in motion. The outage started at 9:37 am PST.  A nearly complete S3 service outage lasted more than three hours and full recovery of other AWS S3-dependent services lasted several hours more.

A few months ago, Dyn taught the industry that single-sourcing your authoritative DNS creates the risk the military described as two is one, one is none. This S3 incident underscores the same lesson for object storage. No service tier is immune. If a website, content, service or application is important, redundant alternative capability at all layers is essential. And this requires appropriate capabilities to monitor and manage this redundancy. After all, fail-over capacity is only as good as the system’s ability to detect the need to, and to actually, failover. This has been at the heart of Cedexis’ vision since the beginning, and as we continue to expand our focus in streaming/video content and application delivery, this will continue to be an important and valuable theme as we seek to improve the Internet experience of every user around the world.

Even the very best, most experienced services can fail. And with increasing deconstruction of service-oriented architectures, the deeply nested dependencies between services may not always be apparent. (In this case, for example, the AWS status website had an underlying dependency on S3 and thus incorrectly reported the service at 100% health during most of the outage.)

We are dedicated to delivering data-driven, intelligent traffic management for redundant infrastructure of any type. Incidents like this should continue to remind the digital world that redundancy, automated failover, and a focus on the customer experience are fundamental to the task of delivering on the continued promise of the Internet.