Amazon.com's latest web outage leaves lots of questions unanswered

Amazon.com joined several other prominent sites that crashed this week. And is leaving some observers asking questions.

Amazon’s inability to stay online without disruption has resulted in a backlash at the lack of information regarding Monday’s outage. The internet behemoth suffered an outage for nearly an hour leaving millions of users unable to access the site. The retail giant's main US site went offline at approximately 3pm EST with the cause of the outage unclear, but Amazon Web Services (AWS), including EC2, remained up and working. During the outage regional Amazon sites were running as were sites of Amazon-owned companies including Diapers.com. The incomplete nature of the outage and some basic testing led Matthew Prince, the CEO of CloudFlare to note that: “The network routes are up and running for amazon.com. This appears to be a problem somewhere in the application or internal network and just for Amazon.com.”Other high-profile websites also experienced outages in recent days. These included the New York Times, Intel, Microsoft and Google – who suffered a four-minute outage on Friday, resulting in a 40 per cent drop in global Internet traffic, according to Internet analytics firm GoSquared. According to Sky News the four minute outage could have cost Google as much as $500,000. "It's very unusual to see such a number of high-profile websites all suffering peak-time outages within the course of a few days of each other," said Chris Green, principal technology analyst at the Davies Murphy Group consultancy.However, compared to the 2011 AWS outage, this is likely going to cost Amazon very little in real time sales. The 2011 AWS outage took out dozens of small and large companies’ websites for nearly a day. However, some have raised questions about why Amazon refuses to release the cause of the outage. Daniel Foster of webhosts 34SP.com remarked, "Amazon, at the very least, had a message to alert users to the problem. Communication really is key here; people are much more forgiving if they're kept in the loop, but the reality is that we will never find out what happened at Amazon, or indeed any of the other high profile sites to suffer recent outages. Internally you can be certain there'll be an in depth analysis of what went wrong at each of these companies, but ultimately it's just that: an internal issue.""You can bet Amazon's engineers were frantically working to restore service as quickly as possible but it's another reminder that even with the best of intentions, a massive budget and some of the most highly skilled technicians in the business, websites aren't 100% reliable.