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On Monday morning, a series of major websites, including Reddit, The New York Times, Twitter, Github, Paypal, Amazon, and even the White House, experienced a significant outage. 

Fastly, a cloud-computing platform that provides a variety of services, including a content delivery network (CDN), image optimization, and protection against denial of service (DDoS) attack, was behind the problem. 

“We experienced a global outage due to an undiscovered software bug that surfaced on June 8 when it was triggered by a valid customer configuration change,” Nick Rockwell, Fastly’s senior vice president of engineering and infrastructure, said in a statement posted on the company’s blog. “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.”

Fastly managed to fix the issue relatively quickly, but it isn’t the first time a widespread outage was caused by an issue at just one company. Moreso, it highlights just how dependent the internet we use every day is on technology and companies that most people aren’t aware of at all. 

While the internet is supposed to be decentralized, the reality is that it’s all rather fragile. That’s the result of a handful of providers — some of whom you’ve likely heard of, like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft, and others that most people haven’t, like Fastly, Cloudflare, and Akamai — establishing choke points that provide many benefits and make the modern web function, but also make it so that just one domino falling can take everything down.

CDNs like Fastly are just one component of what makes the internet easily accessible to so many people.

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When any of those parts fail, the effect can be widespread and catastrophic. Making things more challenging is the fact that there are only a handful of major CDNs providing such a critical piece of the puzzle. 

Content delivery networks help websites place content closer to users. Instead of hosting a website or service in one location, on one server, that information is cached on multiple servers across the world. Fastly says it has servers in 58 cities, which can handle 130 terabytes of data every second. 

Distributing data across those servers helps reduce the amount of time it takes for sites to load, increasing site performance and making for a much better user experience. It also helps balance traffic across networks, reducing overall congestion, and creates redundancy, which — at least in theory — should prevent massive outages when an individual data center is offline.

In the case of Monday’s outage, Fastly hasn’t said exactly what went wrong beyond that it was related to a software bug that was triggered when a customer changed its configuration settings. 

If you can get past the idea that a single customer could bring down so much of the internet just by making a settings change, it makes sense: The widespread effect of the outage means it was more likely related to software that was pushed across …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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