Typo blamed for major Amazon outage

A typo has been blamed for the outage to Amazon Web Services (AWS) that not only powers Amazon owned services like Medium, but is also used by tens of thousands of eCommerce website owners. The glitch also highlighted our reliance on the Internet, with smart homes across the East Coast of the US being plunged into darkness.

Although the system has been built to include redundancy, the mistake made by a single engineer who was looking to improve the speed of the company’s S3 billing services, had a cascade effect that took out multiple servers and systems across AWS. Amazon also said that the problem was exacerbated by the fact that they have not completely rebooted the AWS indexing system for many years.

On Tuesday last week, the Internet giant said that it was experiencing high error rates on the AWS platform. Later on the same day they reported that the problem had been resolved, but not before numerous reports had spread across the Internet that websites, online services, and even smart homes were failing to respond as expected.

Major web based services like content network Medium, social networking plugin GIPHY, and the question and answer social media site Quora, were plunged offline for several hours during the day.

Smaller websites, many of which are eCommerce stores that are built on the Amazon platform and rely on the company’s hosting and other services, also suffered the same outage. Perhaps most surprising, though, was the fact that the error led to a number of homes unable to turn on their lights or use some of their appliances.

IFTTT is a software suite that is used by some smart homes to control devices like smart light bulbs and other smart devices. Because this software uses the same AWS servers as Medium and Quora, they suffered the same outage. This led to tweets and several online reports that homeowners and smart home users were unable to even turn their lights on or off.

While the outage highlighted the potential problem with smart homes and connected devices, it would have also had financial implications for the websites and eCommerce stores that rely on Amazon’s services.

Did you suffer downtime because of the AWS outage?