Such networks are popular with large, high-traffic websites and those offering big files to download. The list of those affected by the June 8 outage included Amazon, Spotify, Twitch, Shopify and Etsy, according to Downdetector, a website
that tracks service outages across the internet. Other major CDN providers include Cloudfare, Akamai and MaxCDN.
Along with speed and the greater ease of serving more customers simultaneously, CDNs are better placed to deliver content such as high-resolution video without disruption. They can also divert traffic to different servers if demand is high or there’s a sudden spike, allowing websites to keep going when they’re under strain. On the other hand, they are costly, do not have servers everywhere and, as evidenced by this latest episode, mean that companies
are putting the fate of their websites in the hands of an outside party.
CDNs don’t fail very often but when they do, it can be spectacular. There are many similarities between this outage and an issue with rival Cloudflare last year. Cloudflare’s problems arose because — in simple terms — the company’s engineers tried to re-route internet traffic and everything exploded. Since website traffic is routed through a CDN’s servers, when the servers break so does everything else. These issues are also hard to prevent, and often happen when companies
need to update their systems. Fastly attributed the incident to “a service configuration that triggered disruptions across our POPs (points of presence) globally”.
There is no evidence to suggest Fastly’s issues were the result of a malicious cyberattack. By contrast, all website system administrators know that network outages and downtime can happen, no matter the size of their hosting platform.
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