AWS outage hits folks at home

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As you likely know by now from either the headlines or your own related difficulties, Amazon web services, the top cloud computing provider, experienced a major outage on Tuesday morning, lasting from around 10 am eastern time until nearly 8 pm. The company first spoke on the outage on their online dashboard at around 11:30 pm yesterday, stating that they were "investigating increased error rates for the AWS Management Console." Later, they updated with, “We are experiencing API and console issues in the US-EAST-1 Region. We have identified root cause and we are actively working towards recovery,” and "We have identified [the] root cause of the issue causing service API and console issues in the US-EAST-1 Region and are starting to see some signs of recovery. We do not have an ETA for full recovery at this time," before finally easing the stress of their users by updating in the evening that, “With the network device issues resolved, we are now working towards recovery of any impaired services. We will provide additional updates for impaired services within the appropriate entry in the Service Health Dashboard.”

Not only did the outage affect Amazon's own online products like Amazon Alexa, Prime Video, and Prime Music, but Amazon Web Services is a major backbone for many companies online, so many were left without their websites and/or apps during this outage. Some of the businesses who utilize AWS and who were affected by the outage were - Coinbase, Disney+, Robinhood, Netflix, Adobe, Airbnb, Venmo, Capital One, Dow Jones, ESPN, Harvard Medical School, IMDB, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Lyft, NASA, Pinterest, Slack, Soundcloud, Spotify, Twitch, Zillow, Yelp, Doordash, Instacart, Chewy and many, many more. This led to people facing such issues as being unable to stream media, check their banking balances, purchase groceries, book flights or hotel rooms, purchase event tickets, send money, or even obtain transportation.

Amazon also faced issues in the delivery department, as Amazon Flex drivers were unable to access the app that they use to receive their delivery assignments. Not only were Amazon Flex drivers affected, but third party delivery services that partner with Amazon to make deliveries during the busy holiday season were also unable to receive the information needed to process their deliveries, being forced to sit in their delivery vehicles as they awaited information, further backing up shipments. These delays in shipping, as well as many people being unable to make the purchases they needed to make during the outage, could cause even more delays in the already busy and rushed holiday shopping season.

Some people found their daily lives interrupted in more ways than being unable to access websites and apps. People who use Amazon's Alexa found her to be unresponsive during the delay, and users of Ring smart doorbells were even left unable to enter their own homes because the Ring app was another service that was affected by the outage. Those who were lucky enough to be in their homes but using products like smart lightbulbs or thermostats found themselves unable to control the smart items that they paid so much more for. Those who use the usually convenient iRobot smart vacuums found their homes less tidy yesterday, as they too could not use the iRobot app. Even those with smart Christmas lights found their homes less festive for the hours that AWS was down, as they were also unable to access the apps required to control them.

While there were many people negatively affected by yesterday's outage, with more than 20,000 complaints according to Downdetector, there were some who didn't mind the outage as much. Unable to receive the information they needed to process orders and shipments, many workers of various Amazon warehouses posted videos of themselves finding other ways to use their time on the clock. While they were stuck at work but still being paid for the day, they used the time for fun, creating TikTok videos of themselves singing Christmas karaoke, having dance parties, playing games, and even showing off their artistic skills by making Amazon box creations in the downtime.

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