A large number of websites around the world, including major U.S. media outlets, went offline on Tuesday after an outage at the cloud computing services provider Fastly.
The story: The outage prevented users from accessing major e-commerce platforms, prominent news outlets, as well as government websites. Affected websites included CNN, the New York Times, Amazon, Twitch, and Reddit, as well as Al Jazeera Media Network, Gov.uk, GitHub, HBO Max, Hulu, PayPal, Stack Overflow, Shopify, Quora, and Vimeo.
Some websites were down entirely, while others had issues loading images.
Fastly confirmed a global disruption and started looking into the issue on Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, its status page said, “we’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services.”
The company later announced that “the issue has been identified and a fix is being implemented.” Around an hour later, the company said all services had been restored and that the incident was resolved.
Fastly said, at one point, that “a service configuration … triggered disruptions.”
What happened? Fastly said that a software bug caused the outage in a statement.
The company explained: “On May 12, we began a software deployment that introduced a bug that could be triggered by a specific customer configuration under specific circumstances. Early June 8, a customer pushed a valid configuration change that included the specific circumstances that triggered the bug, which caused 85% of our network to return errors.”
“We detected the disruption within one minute, then identified and isolated the cause, and disabled the configuration. Within 49 minutes, 95% of our network was operating as normal. This outage was broad and severe, and we’re truly sorry for the impact to our customers and everyone who relies on them,” Fastly said.
Media outlets’ response: According to Reuters, news outlets scrambled to find alternative ways to report news and publish content including via Google Docs.
Why Fastly and how does it work? Companies use Fastly’s services and others of its kind to speed up their websites. Fastly, for example, promises “lightning fast delivery” and “advanced security.”
Content-delivery networks store content from a given website to a number of servers that are closer to users, which reduces the time it takes for the information to reach them. This process essentially speeds up loading and streaming.
However, the nature of such a network means that one issue can affect many of its customers at once, such as the outrage that took place on Tuesday.
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