Amazon Web Services powers a significant portion of the internet. It's a cloud hosting service where users can deploy websites, apps, and other similar products. An integral part of this is the Simple Storage Service, commonly called S3. When AWS goes down -- an "outage" in developer parlance -- a big chunk of the internet goes down with it. That's what happened Tuesday.
The result: chaos.
Trello and Quora are among the affected websites, along with many other startups. Payment processor Stripe may be a partial casualty. Amusingly, even Is It Down Right Now, a service dedicated to monitoring other websites' uptime, is part of the carnage. Rival service Is Up remains, uh, up. In fact, the effects of the AWS failure range further than websites. One Twitter user reported that he can't adjust his mouse sensitivity because the device maker's servers have been affected.
"Just to stress: this is one S3 region that has become inaccessible, yet web apps are tripping up and vanishing as their backend evaporates away," noted IT publication The Register.
Amazon's status page is still full of happy green checkmarks, and it's causing frustration:
The AWS Twitter account explained, "The dashboard not changing color is related to S3 issue. See the banner at the top of the dashboard for updates." Venture capitalist Blake Robbins quipped, "Note to self: Don't make your status page dependent on your own service working."
The flood of traffic to industry forum Hacker News has been so overwhelming that moderator Daniel Gackle had to request, "I hate to ask this, but our poor little single-core server process is getting hammered and steam is coming out its ears. If you don't plan to post anything, would you mind logging out? Then we can serve you from cache."
A highly upvoted comment warned readers that "us-east-1 [the service region most affected by the outage] is the worst place to set up AWS services. You're signing up for the oldest hardware and the most frequent outages. For legacy customers, it's hard to move regions, but in general, if you have the chance to choose a region other than us-east-1, do that." (The validity of this statement could not be confirmed by Inc.)
Another frustrated user added, "It's not just us-east-1! [Amazon is] being extremely dishonest with the green checkmarks. We can't even load the s3 console for other regions. I would post a screenshot, but Imgur is hosed by this too."