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Amazon Web Services suffers major outage

01 March 2017

Amazon Web Services suffered a major breakdown in eastern US, starting about midday yesterday, which caused massive performance issues for thousands of websites and apps.

While a number of services were knocked out completely, thousands faced trouble with features ranging from file sharing to webfeeds to loading any type of data from Amazon's "simple storage service," known as S3. Amazon services started recovering around 4pm EST, and an hour later the company noted on its service site that S3 was fully operational.

According to commentators, the breakdown highlighted the risks of heavy dependence on a few  big companies for cloud computing. Amazon's service revenue was much higher by revenue than that of any of its rivals - Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and IBM, according to Forrester Research.

Given the handful of providers any outage could  have a disproportionate effect, but according to some analysts, the Amazon outage did not prove any problem with cloud computing, rather it highlighted how reliable the cloud normally was.

According to Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti, the outage should not cause companies to assume "the cloud is dangerous."

Amazon's problems started with an S3 region based in Virginia experiencing what the company called "increased error rates."

Amazon said in a statement that as of 4pm EST it was still experiencing errors that were "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," Amazon said.

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

The company did not disclose the cause of the outage.

A number of internet-connected devices including Nest thermostats, Amazon's Alexa and smartphone-controlled light switches stopped functioning and Apple also reported issues with its App store, Apple Music and iCloud back-up.

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