Amazon's partial cloud failure takes out several popular websites

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A partial failure of Amazon's cloud server network brought down the websites of several popular services, including Quora, Reddit and Foursquare for several hours beginning around 4:41am Eastern Time Thursday. The issues were isolated to the company's data centers in Northern Virginia.

Amazon's AWS status page indicated that as of press time Thursday afternoon on the East Coast, issues were still ongoing, including "instance connectivity, latency and error rates." According to the company, the issue began when a unspecified "networking event" caused AWS servers to erroneously re-mirror a large amount of data.

Servers in the Northern Virginia data center began to run out of space as a result and caused a whole new set of failures. This event ended up taking down many sites who depend on AWS' cloud infrastructure to power its backend. Since the event, engineers said they were working to remedy the issue.

"We're starting to see progress on these efforts, but are not there yet. We will continue to provide updates when we have them," the company reported. Either way, the issue could be one of the worst problems to affect the service.

"Right now, it looks like a complete network meltdown," tweeted George Reese, who is founder of cloud management company enStratus. He also seemed to suggest that companies that found themselves down due to AWS should consider redundancy in later tweets.

Wednesday's issues also highlight the drawbacks of taking it "to the cloud" vis a vis having one's own IT infrastructure. While a considerable amount of overhead is cut out by outsourcing, companies and services who depend on it for its operations are at the mercy of these cloud computing providers when problems arise.

iPhone jailbreakers also found themselves without the popular app store Cydia: the service relies on AWS for its hosting and e-commerce platform.

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