Science

Widespread Amazon cloud service outage disables Roombas, Ring doorbells, even Christmas lights


A large-scale outage on Amazon’s cloud service this week wreaked widespread havoc on websites and software services.

In addition to disabling Flickr, Adobe and the Washington Post’s website, the outage of Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Wednesday caused Roombas, Rokus, Ring doorbells and other smart household appliances to stop functioning.

The issue, which impacted the US East-1 region, sent Twitter users into a tizzy.

‘My f—ing doorbell doesn’t work because AWS us-east-1 is having issues,’ tweeted one disgruntled Ring user.

‘I… can’t vacuum… because us-east-1 is down,’ complained Geoff Belknap, Chief Information Security Officer for LinkedIn.

And it put a Grinch-like damper on one man’s holiday display.

‘Anyone else unable to turn on their Christmas lights because of the AWS outage?’ asked Brian Ragazzi of Mississippi.

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A large-scale outage on Amazon's cloud service this week cause Roombas, Ring doorbells and other smart appliances to malfunction

A large-scale outage on Amazon’s cloud service this week cause Roombas, Ring doorbells and other smart appliances to malfunction

The problem even affected Amazon’s ability to post updates to its own Service Health Dashboard.

AWS operates from 24 data centers but U.S. East-1, based in northern Virginia, is one of its most crucial.

Impacted companies scrambled to respond to frustrated customers.

‘Please know that our team is aware and monitoring the situation and hope to get the app back online soon,’ tweeted iRobot, maker of the Roomba. ‘Thank you for your understanding and patience.’

Angry Ring users vented their frustration on Twitter

Angry Ring users vented their frustration on Twitter

Geoff Belknapp, Chief Information Security Officer for LinkedIn, was among those whose Roombas was impacted by the outage. AWS operates from 24 regions but U.S. East-1, based in northern Virginia, is one of its most crucial

Geoff Belknapp, Chief Information Security Officer for LinkedIn, was among those whose Roombas was impacted by the outage. AWS operates from 24 regions but U.S. East-1, based in northern Virginia, is one of its most crucial

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One Twitter user complained his holiday light display was malfunctioning because of the AWS outage. By early Thursday morning, service had been widely restored

One Twitter user complained his holiday light display was malfunctioning because of the AWS outage. By early Thursday morning, service had been widely restored

Roombas can be used without an internet connection, but connectivity is needed to schedule cleanings, activate it remotely and keep the robot vacuum in a specific room, according to the BBC.

Some people had just bought their devices for the holidays and were quite put out.

‘I’ve had the Roomba one day and can’t even get it set up right,’ complained David A Beckham, no apparent relation to the football star. 

‘Maybe you need to look at some redundancy to ensure this doesn’t happen again,’ he added. ‘We pay premium rates for these bots and expect them to work out of the box.’

‘Thanksgiving is tomorrow and we need to clean!’ cried another Roomba user. ‘How can I operate the robots if the app is down?’

Some wondered if the issue would impact Black Friday sales but by 4:30am Thursday, the bulk of service was restored.

One Ring user said his smart doorbell saved up all the motion alerts it recorded during the outage and 'hit me all at once with 70— but no videos'

One Ring user said his smart doorbell saved up all the motion alerts it recorded during the outage and ‘hit me all at once with 70— but no videos’

‘We have restored all traffic to Kinesis Data Streams via all endpoints and it is now operating normally,’ the company said in a status update.

Amazon Kinesis, a part of AWS’ cloud offerings, collects, processes and analyzes real-time data and offers insights.

AWS said the cause of the outage was identified and it had taken steps to prevent a recurrence.

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There was some lingering damage: One Ring user said his smart doorbell saved up all the motion alerts it recorded during the outage and ‘hit me all at once with 70— but no videos.’

Outages aside, Amazon’s cloud service business has been booming, thanks to increased demand from companies switching to virtual offices during the pandemic.

It’s now the largest provider of rented computing power and software services.

Sales from AWS rose almost 30 percent in the third quarter of 2020.

WHAT IS AMAZON WEB SERVICE?

AWS is a cloud computing service that gives customers a way of accessing databases, storage and servers. 

AWS owns and operates the hardware that is required to provide these services.

Customers access what they need from AWS through a web application.

Amazon’s cloud computing option allows users to pay for the resources they need as they go – meaning they do not have to purchase servers that might not even be used to be safe.

Additionally, the service allows developers to access exactly the infrastructure capacity they need so they do not end up having purchased too much or too little.  

The ‘AWS Secret Region’ is a subset with the capability to allow the 17 intelligence agencies to host, analyze and run applications on government data classified at the secret level.

The service is air-gapped—or shut off—from the rest of the internet.



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