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AWS Christmas Eve Outage Leaves Netflix Customers without Video Service
Last week on Christmas Eve, according to InformationWeek, Amazon Web Services (News - Alert) (AWS) suffered a power outage that left millions of Netflix customers without video service. Besides disrupting services for Netflix viewers from Canada to Brazil, the AWS outage also affected Amazon's own video-streaming service Amazon Prime and Salesforce.com's (News - Alert) Heroku cloud platform.
However, Netflix was able to restore services to most of the affected consumers by late Christmas Eve by manually reassigning capacity to other Amazon data centers. While Amazon reported that it took until the afternoon of Christmas Day to fix the problems at its Northern Virginia data center.
Even though social networks were flooded with Netflix customer complaints on Christmas Eve, Amazon offered little explanation on the problem. Instead, the cloud service provider delivered a status history report for Christmas Eve on the Amazon Service Health dashboard, which displayed performance issues affected Amazon's Northern Virginia data center.
Three specific AWS services were affected on that day, including Amazon CloudWatch, EC2 and Elastic Beanstalk. While CloudWatch provides monitoring for AWS cloud services and apps, EC2 is the Elastic Compute Cloud that provides on-demand compute capacity. Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling and application health monitoring.
AWS offers built-in redundancy for all these services by employing multiple data centers and availability zones around the globe. The goal of redundancy is to minimize downtime, which costs a lot. But, despite redundancy, provisions for automatic failover went down along with the CloudWatch and Beanstalk services.
Anyway, the latest incident marks the fourth AWS outage in 2012. However, media reports suggest that Amazon’s Easter outage of 2011 is still considered as one of the online retailer’s worst outage.
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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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