Popular websites crippled by hours-long Amazon cloud service outage

Reddit, Foursquare, and other Web apps/services hit by outage, raising questions about Amazon's backup and disaster recovery plans

Amazon's popular EC2 and Relational Database Services suffered glitches earlier this morning, leaving popular websites and services such as Reddit, Foursquare, and Hootsuite crippled or outright disabled well into the early afternoon. The outages are a sobering reminder of the risks of placing one's eggs in a service provider's basket, even a relatively well-established one such as Amazon Web Services. The mishap will no doubt prompt users of Amazon's services to call on the company to explain why it lacked the necessary backup and disaster-recovery systems to prevent this sort of downtime.

Amazon Web Services first reported at 1:40 a.m. PT that its Northern Virginia data center was experiencing connectivity issues and servers delays, prompted by "a networking event [that] triggered a large amount of re-mirroring of EBS volumes" on the EC2 side, according to the AWS Service Health Dashboard. "This re-mirroring created a shortage of capacity in one of the US-EAST-1 Availability Zones, which impacted new EBS volume creation as well as the pace with which we could re-mirror and recover affected EBS volumes." On the RDS side, Amazon reported connectivity and latency issues with database instances.

By 10:25 a.m., Amazon said it had made "significant progress" in stabilizing the affected EBS control plane service and was seeing reduced failures and latency. The company further reported it was making progress in restoring access and I/O latencies for affected RDS instances.

Still, websites reliant on AWS have continued to bear out the ill effects of Amazon's service issues. Social bookmarking site Reddit, for example, was in "emergency read-only mode" at 11:15 a.m. PT.

Meanwhile, Hootsuite and Foursquare were completely down. Accessing their respective home pages brought up messages alerting users to the issue. Foursquare's, for example, said, "Our usually-amazing datacenter hosts, Amazon EC2, are having a few hiccups this morning, which affected us and a bunch of other services that use them."

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