Amazon Web Services outage disrupts US businesses, halts some delivery operations

Amazon’s cloud computing network suffered a major outage on Tuesday, causing disruptions for more than five hours to a wide range of U.S. companies that rely on it — including its own massive e-commerce operation.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides cloud computing services to individuals, universities, governments and companies, including FOX properties, whose publishing system was impacted much of the day.

The incident mostly affected the eastern U.S., but still impacted everything from airline reservations and auto dealerships to payment apps and video streaming services to Amazon's delivery operations.

Amazon has not said what went wrong and limited its communications on Tuesday to its status page confirming issues and sharing technical updates.

"The root cause of this issue is an impairment of several network devices in the US-EAST-1 Region. We are pursuing multiple mitigation paths in parallel, and have seen some signs of recovery, but we do not have an ETA for full recovery at this time," an earlier update read in part.

Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha also said in a brief statement that the outage had affected Amazon's own warehouse and delivery operation but said the company was "working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible."


FILE - Amazon Web Services logo displayed on a phone screen and a laptop keyboard are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland, on Dec. 1, 2021. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Roughly five hours after numerous companies and other organizations began reporting issues, the company said in a post on the AWS status page that it had "mitigated" the underlying problem responsible for the outage, which it did not describe.

It took some affected companies hours more to thoroughly check their systems and restart their own services.

AWS was formerly run by Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who succeeded founder Jeff Bezos in July. The cloud-service operation is a huge profit center for Amazon. It holds roughly a third of the $152 billion market for cloud services, according to a report by Synergy Research — a larger share than its closest rivals, Microsoft and Google, combined.

To technologist and public data access activist Carl Malamud, the AWS outage highlights how much Big Tech has warped the internet, which was originally designed as a distributed and decentralized network intended to survive mass disasters such as nuclear attack.

"When we put everything in one place, be it Amazon’s cloud or Facebook’s monolith, we’re violating that fundamental principle," said Malamud, who developed the internet’s first radio station and later put a vital U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission database online.

Widespread and often lengthy outages resulting from single-point failures appear increasingly common. In June, the behind-the-scenes content distributor Fastly suffered a failure that briefly took down dozens of major internet sites including CNN, The New York Times and Britain's government home page.

Then in October, Facebook — now known as Meta Platforms — blamed a "faulty configuration change" for an hours-long worldwide outage that took down Instagram and WhatsApp in addition to its titular platform.

This time, problems appeared to begin mid-morning, according to DownDetector, a site that tracks outage reports. People trying to use Instacart, Venmo, Kindle, Roku, and Disney+ reported issues. The McDonald’s app was also down.

Netflix was one of the more prominent names affected and experienced a 26% drop in traffic, according to Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Kentik Inc, a network intelligence firm.

Several airline customers trying to book or change trips also had trouble. Issues were reported with Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines. 

Toyota spokesman Scott Vazin said the company’s U.S. East Region for dealer services went down. The company has apps that access inventory data, monthly payment calculators, service bulletins and other items. More than 20 apps were affected.

Madory said he saw no reason to suspect nefarious activity. He said the recent cluster of major outages reflects how complex the networking industry has become. 

"More and more these outages end up being the product of automation and centralization of administration," he said. "This ends up leading to outages that are hard to completely avoid due to operational complexity but are very impactful when they happen."

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.