In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, a technology provider named Fastly experienced a big break that inadvertently broke some of the largest sites on the web. And now, we know why. IN blog post posted late yesterday, Fastly Engineering Vice President Nick Rockwell explained that the company “suffered a global outage due to an undiscovered programming error” that occurred when a customer simply … reconfigured its Internet connection.
According to Rockwell’s blog, Fastly released a software update in mid-May that was accidentally pre-packaged with a bug that could be triggered in specific circumstances. In the early morning hours of June 8, one of Fastly’s customers inadvertently set these circumstances in motion as he redirected his Internet connection via “valid configuration change. “Before they knew it, 85% of Fastly’s network started returning bugs, sites stopped loading, and a global pandemonium ensued.
Rockwell explained that he quickly noticed the global outage “within a minute” and then did a quick job to fix the problem. “Within 49 minutes, 95% of our network was working properly,” he wrote. “This interruption was wide and severe, and we sincerely regret the impact on our customers and all those who rely on them.”
It turns out that these are a lot of people. Along with companies like Cloudflare and Akami, Fastly is one of the so-called “content delivery network” (CDN) giants that withstand extensive lines on the Internet, allowing sites to store their data in their own clouds. Storing data like this doesn’t just mean that the content reaches your browser fasterbut also means that more people can access this content at once.
At least that’s what needs to happen. But technological hiccups are emerging everything on timeand CDN are not immunized. As early as 2019, Cloudflare went through such an interruption to the one that passed quickly this week, inadvertently taking platforms like Dropbox, Medium and Soundcloud along with it. In 2017, a four-hour AWS shortage unconscious sites like Netflix and Spotify. When the handful of technology companies that underlie the Internet are as infallible as literally any other technology company, you should be wondering if this power consolidation is a good thing.