Amazon Web Services offered a few more details on the outage that struck its Northern Virginia data center over the weekend, an outage that knocked popular services such as Netflix and Instagram offline.

Here’s the statement that Amazon issued Monday:

Severe thunderstorms caused us to lose primary and backup generator power to a portion of a single Availability Zone in our US-East Region Friday night. For perspective, in our US-East Region in Virginia, we have in excess of 10 datacenters. In the thunderstorm on Friday night, several of our datacenters had their utility power impacted, but in only one of them did the redundant power not operate correctly (which ended up impacting a single digit percentage of our Amazon EC2 instances in the US-East Region). We began restoring service to most of the impacted customers Friday night and the remainder were restored on Saturday.

It marked the second outage at Amazon’s facilities in Northern Virginia during the month of June, and followed a massive failure last year that gave the Seattle company’s cloud computing services a black eye.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that the recent outage has caused some in Congress to question the viability of cloud services like those provided by Amazon.

“Last week’s powerful thunderstorms, along with the massive disruptions they caused, exposed some of the vulnerabilities of cloud computing,” said Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) in a statement. “But I also believe the problems extend way beyond consumer convenience and customer service. There are some serious privacy issues which we need to look at as well.”


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  • Guest

    Thank you, Amazon, for keeping the communication lines open at this time of crisis.

  • Mike

    It’s a data center for crucial national infstructure like Netflix and Instagram that was out for less than a day, largely overnight, so Congress clearly better look into this. I mean it’s not like backup power got nocked out to a nuclear plant here or somewhere else trivial. I mean, OMG Instagram was offline people and I saw the cutest cats, what was I supposed to do!

  • Khan

    I find this explanation to be dripping with PR platitudes and not enough “mae culpa”. I get that things fail, but casting this as “only one” and “single digit percentage” is a line of crap. Why call it “more than ten” instead of “a dozen”? Because the number is 11 and not 12? Why call it “a single digit”… because it’s 9% and not 1%? The evasive nature of the language in this “statement” does not inspire confidence in Amazon’s cloud computing offering.

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