Anyone in doubt about the extent to which Amazon rules our lives—well beyond the things we buy—only needs to look at the spiraling effects of an Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage on Dec. 7, when everything from banking apps to home deliveries to Christmas lights suddenly blinked out.
AWS, which supplies nearly a third of all cloud computing services used by companies online, first reported an outage on the morning of Dec. 7; the problem lay in several network devices being flooded with a high volume of traffic from unknown sources. By the evening, AWS said on its status dashboard that it was still “working towards full recovery across services.” The following morning, the main outages had been fixed, although AWS remained slower than usual.
For much of the day of Dec. 7, therefore, a wide array of web-based services turned lethargic or comatose. Our daily routines have become thoroughly but invisibly reliant on cloud computing, so even a partial AWS problem can cause an astonishing suspension of our ordinary activities. Indeed, a particularly unlucky person might have found every single part of their day hit by the outage, bringing normal life to a grinding halt.