Amazon’s Web Services outage affects major sites and smart home devices

Amazon Web Services suffered from a massive outage on Tuesday, blocking users from accessing a huge variety of sites and apps. But the story it tells us about our reliance on the cloud lives on.

Amazon Web Services, the biggest cloud computing platforms provider to government and private institutions in the United States, experienced an outage on Tuesday. The disruption was mostly concentrated on the US East Coast, but many reports of faulty operations also came from Europe. It lasted for the whole day, leaving thousands of users unable to access sites such as Netflix and Disney+, and various apps, including Alexa, many of which control vacuum cleaners and light switches.

Amazon has later announced that the problem happened likely due to API-related issues. API, an application programming interface that governs communication between computers and applications, is used by many major websites and applications, causing significant disruption across all of them.

“We are seeing impact to multiple [Amazon Web Services] APIs [application programming interfaces] in the US-EAST-1 Region," the company stated according to NPR.

Later that day, Amazon announced on their dashboard they were working towards full recovery of their operations.

“With the network device issues resolved, we are now working towards recovery of any impaired services,”

This is not the first time Amazon experiences an outage, with 27 incidents noted over the past year, according to Reuters. The last big disruption happened in June and was connected to a smaller cloud computing services provider, Fastly Inc, shutting down Reddit, Amazon, and PayPal, among others, for two hours.

The impact of such outages is hard to overstate. Gartner suggests that the average cost of network downtime is $5,600 per minute. However, such calculations are not fixed and can vary based on the company’s features, reaching up to $540,000 per minute.

However, users also experience major disruptions. Smart home appliances have entered many doors, with 83 million households currently owning at least one device (with 69% of those located in the US, according to TechJury.) The most popular of such gadgets control temperature and security, and all of them are in some way reliant on the cloud. As a result, even animals experienced Tuesday’s outage first-hand, as their owner’s device failed to give them food on time.

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