Unexplained On/Off
November 2, 2018
January 7, 2019

Amazon S3: When It Rains, It Pours

Yesterday’s Amazon S3 outage affected thousands of websites and applications on the Eastern United States yesterday. The implications of having a centralized cloud based system are pretty evident with yesterday’s blackout, however it’s important to understand the background on the system as well as how effective it is over the long-term.

The S3

Amazon S3 is Amazon’s cloud based storage service geared toward businesses and developers. The S3 stores data on remote servers in datacenters all over the country. The datacenter in Virginia, which controls the data on the Eastern seaboard, was the one compromised during the outage yesterday.

According to the Miami Herald *link*, Amazon’s S3 service launched in 2006 and stores everything from websites and applications to images and consumer data. The service is the largest and most profitable amongst its closest competitors (Microsoft Azure, Google’s Cloud, and IBM)

The Outage

At about 11am yesterday, Amazon Web Services suffered an unexpected breakdown in the Eastern datacenter located in Virginia. Shortly after, thousands of prominent websites and applications reported outages in file sharing and webfeeds. While none of the pages were completely down, the outage definitely put a halt the service’s normal functions. Many tech companies are referring to the outage as The Day The Cloud Stood Still.


Obviously, Amazon’s S3 outage presents the question of how reliable Cloud storage based services are with data management. At the very least, this incident should provide an incentive for cloud developers to implement backup measures in case their systems fail. This should also remind business owner to ask their storage providers to create a fallback in case their backup systems crash.

As all IT specialists know, glitches can happen. However, this doesn’t deter from the reliability of a cloud based storage system. CloudHarmony reported that since 2014, Amazon S3 had provided a 100% reliability rate. While this outage was an inconvenience for a number of businesses, in the long run it will make Amazon’s Web Services more reliable than ever.