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Disruption in Amazon’s cloud service ripples through Internet

LiveMint logoLiveMint 01-03-2017 Jeffrey Dastin

San Francisco: Web users experienced widespread glitches on Tuesday, from news sites to government services, after Amazon.com Inc.’s popular cloud service that hosts their data suffered a technical disruption.

Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, or Amazon S3, had difficulty sending and receiving clients’ data for more than three and a half hours, according to company status reports online. Amazon did not disclose the cause, and some of its smaller cloud applications in North America continued to have trouble.

The far reach of the disruption underscored the increasing dependence of organizations on the cloud for cheap and secure data storage. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s biggest cloud business.

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Apple Inc. on its website reported issues with its app store, music-streaming service and other products, which it later resolved. The iPhone maker did not immediately comment on the cause; however, it previously has said it uses Amazon S3 for some storage.

Nilay Patel‏, editor in chief of tech website The Verge, said on Twitter that an article “published without an image because our image system runs on AWS.” Messaging startup Slack Technologies Inc. said users may have had difficulty uploading files due to problems with its hosting service, according to posts on Twitter.

“Imagine your business not being able to run for a day. That’s a big problem,” said Gene Munster, head of research for Loup Ventures.

The disruption extended beyond the business world. A site for Georgetown University professors to manage course content and grade assignments, which relies on Amazon’s cloud, had “connectivity problems,” the university’s chief information officer said in a message to students and faculty, seen by Reuters.

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A spokesperson for the US Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement, “Our cloud services provider has informed us that they are experiencing issues that are affecting page loads on http://sec.gov and that they are working to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.”

Loup Ventures’ Munster called the disruption “a temporary black eye” for Amazon. Customers would not go through the hassle of switching to a competing cloud service because of a one-time event, he said. AWS is a large, fast-growing source of revenue for Amazon. It has helped transform the retailer, once known simply for selling books online, into a technology platform. Amazon shares closed down less than 1%.

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