AWS cloud outage: when the backbone of the internet is weakening – digital


On Wednesday evening shortly after 9 p.m. German time, Geoff Belknap tweeted a cry for help: “I can’t vacuum because US-East-1 down is “, he wrote. Whether Belknap, who is responsible for cybersecurity at the career network Linkedin, actually owns a Roomba vacuum cleaner or just wanted to make a critical comment is open. One thing is clear: Belknap’s tweet hit a nerve. Within a few hours it got it Message thousands of likes.

The vacuum cleaner robot company Roomba uses the cloud provider AWS, which belongs to Amazon. The real-time data service from AWS had problems on Wednesday for reasons that have not yet been clarified. In fact, at this point in time, many Americans couldn’t vacuum.


A spokesman for AWS initially only confirmed “in the area US-East-1 increased error rates, which led to problems with some other AWS services. “According to the AWS website, the problem has now been resolved.

The Chief Technology Officer at AWS, Werner Vogels, should once again feel confirmed. His mantra, which his employees like to quote, is “Everything fails all the time”, ie: Everything always fails. AWS tries to solve this problem with redundancy. That is why the Amazon services are divided into 24 regions. In one of these, just US-East-1, a service has failed.

Do vacuum cleaners have to rely on the internet?

The internet portal The Verge enumerated dozens of services affected, including newspapers like that Tampa Bay Times, the streaming app Roku, a password manager and the bookmark app Pocket. If all of these services have problems at once, this is noticeable, also because everyone then points a finger at AWS. The service is so powerful that it has become something of the backbone of the internet.


This week’s outage sparked a dispute about the cloud and AWS: Could providers function more reliably if companies operated their own clouds, i.e. their own online-based computing capacities? With your own specialists who take care of round-the-clock availability? And how much more expensive would that be?

It is doubtful that Roomba vacuum cleaners or Pocket would have fewer failures if they were to rely on their own structures, says René Büst, cloud analyst at the market research company Gartner. According to Büst, there are no scientific studies comparing the downtime between large clouds and in-house systems. He says that honest numbers on downtimes can hardly be expected from companies.

Of course, the dependence on large US cloud providers is noticeable – and a potential problem from a European perspective. Not least because of this, Germany and the EU have decided on the Gaia-X cloud project, which is to provide a data-secure alternative to Microsoft’s cloud service Azure, AWS and the Google cloud in the near future. But parts of Gaia-X will also occasionally fail. Because even in a European cloud, everything fails all the time.



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