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US Amazon.com Website Down For Over 1 Hour 228

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the there-goes-the-bottom-line dept.
CorporalKlinger writes "CNET News is reporting that Amazon's US website, Amazon.com, has been unreachable since 10:30 AM PDT today. As of posting, visiting www.amazon.com produces an 'Http/1.1 Service Unavailable' message. According to CNET, "Based on last quarter's revenue of $4.13 billion, a full-scale global outage would cost Amazon more than $31,000 per minute on average." Some of Amazon's international websites still appear to be working, and some pages on the US Amazon.com site load if accessed using HTTPS instead of HTTP."
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US Amazon.com Website Down For Over 1 Hour

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  • by Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:11PM (#23685851)
    I guess somebody spilled beer on the servers? I had no idea the guys from FARK also ran Amazon.
    • by The Dobber (576407) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:25PM (#23689077)
      Isn't the Loss number a bit misleading? Wouldn't the typical Amazon shopper see the site down, figure there has been a problem and return at a later time?

      It's not like there are a lot of alternatives out there. Sure, some specialized places might fill part of the bill, but once you've become accustomed to Amazon, you more or less stick with em.

  • But... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shikaku (1129753) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:12PM (#23685865)
    It works just fine for me right now.

    Also now you are Slashdotting it!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If amazon can be slashdotted then she is not the brawd I thought she was.
  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:13PM (#23685881)
    I'm sure the sysadmins appreciate Slashdot sending thousands of requests their way while they're site's already down. While we're at it, maybe we should find someone with a papercut and start squirting lemon juice all over them.
    • by sloth jr (88200) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:24PM (#23686053)
      It's really not all that difficult to survive a slashdot pounding for commercial web shops, even for dynamic content. Generally speaking, a popular link is going to generate perhaps 500k views a day for a day and some.

      Only exceptions would be if there was a lot of heavy content being served on each page turn, saturation of one's uplink is a possibility - 10Gb links to the backbone aren't that common as yet, and CDNs like Akamai helps alleviate a good portion of that traffic.

      My totally unsubstantiated guess is there was some DNS fooage that directed sites to a down cluster or possibly a screwed up CDN leg, but I'll be interested to see what's truly up.

      sloth jr
    • by Goaway (82658) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:23PM (#23686903) Homepage
      You think traffic from SlashDot would even be noticeable on Amazon's servers? You have some delusions of grandeur there.
    • by DrHanser (845654) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:55PM (#23687361) Homepage

      Digg sends far more traffic to a site than Slashdot does (obviously it wasn't always this way). And digg's traffic isn't particularly noteworthy to a site of any reasonable size. (Say, Ars Technica, nevermind amazon.)

      Yahoo Buzz, on the other hand, sends *huge* amounts of traffic, noticeable to sites like, again, Ars but again no disruptions of service*. But I doubt that amazon would even hiccup. If you think slashdot would even be a blip on amazon's radar, you have some serious delusions about 1) slashdot's size 2) amazon's size or 3) both.

      * According to one of the devs.

  • Patents (Score:5, Funny)

    by QuantumRiff (120817) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:14PM (#23685891)
    Wait until a patent comes out for: "Taking a web presense offline, to generate discussion about the web presense, thereby increasing awareness about the site." Also, sucks to be the guy that stepped on the surge protector laying on the floor....
  • Believe me, if you've seen the code that runs that site, it's impressive it runs as well as it does. Try to imagine 900M static binaries that take almost an hour to link because of some tiny little code change, because they can't be fucked to make their deployment system deal with dynamic libraries reasonably.

    • by pclminion (145572) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:45PM (#23687229)

      Believe me, if you've seen the code that runs that site, it's impressive it runs as well as it does. Try to imagine 900M static binaries that take almost an hour to link because of some tiny little code change, because they can't be fucked to make their deployment system deal with dynamic libraries reasonably.

      Fuck up a dynamic library and you fuck everything. Fuck up one of those 900M programs and you've fucked 1/900M'th of everything.

      What does Amazon's back end compile for? If it's Linux, that's an issue right there. The GNU linker has pathological behavior when linking large numbers of static libraries. I work on a relatively small (~1 million line) codebase and it takes about ten minutes to link. Link it on another platform (e.g. Solaris) and it links in about five seconds.

      The problem isn't the huge number of libraries. The problem is that the linker blows.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2008 @05:12PM (#23687591)
        GP meant a single ~1GB binary, not 900 million binaries. See Obidos [wikipedia.org]
        GP is approximately 3 years out of date. See Gurupa [wikipedia.org]

        Since I can't give any details directly, I'll let wiki [wikipedia.org] do it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Otter (3800)
        Fuck up a dynamic library and you fuck everything. Fuck up one of those 900M programs and you've fucked 1/900M'th of everything.

        I think her point was that there's one gigantic binary, not an enormous number of tiny ones.

      • Gold [blogspot.com] is about 5 times faster than the regular GNU linker. It will only work on x86 code (64bits included) and ELF targets (linux/solaris)
    • by B3ryllium (571199)
      Wouldn't you agree that link time is largely irrelevant (except in the situation of having to fix a critical bug that should have been discovered in testing anyway)?

      Being able to avoid the incessant act of compiling/linking is probably what leads to so much sub-par PHP code in the first place - you're less likely to be moulded into a mindset of getting it right the first time :)
  • D&D did it. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Silicon Jedi (878120) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:18PM (#23685959)
    One of the top sellers on Amazon is the D&D 4th Edition Core Rules giftset. It apparently is only shipping to some pre-orders. The geeks are freaking out and untintentionally DoS'ing Amazon.
    • I find that highly unlikely. Less than 10% of the population is even interested in D&D. Factor in the usual resistance to new editions and the number of different places you can preorder the books, DnD taking down Amazon is like a wererat taking out a team of 9th level adventurers.
    • by 3dr (169908)
      Somebody cast magic missile.
    • by Abreu (173023)
      For Gygax's sake, I was promised it would ship today!!!

      I want my D&D! ...and if you see the Amazon page for the core rulebook set, you'll see its sold out and backordered already!
  • by nathana (2525) <nathan@anderson-net.com> on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:25PM (#23686067) Homepage
    I was just about to post saying that I had no problems getting to the site. I hit Amazon's home page, and it came up just fine for me...the first time. I was about to hit submit until I decided to also try navigating around the site a bit, log into my account, etc.; so I went back to try, and ran into the problem.

    So, it seems to be working...at times.
  • D&D (Score:2, Funny)

    4th edition D&D books came out today. Coincidence?
    • I didn't know servers would crash due to a lack of interest.

      Seriously, look at the DnD 4.0 thread... I don't think I've seen something go over so lackluster since the Segway came out.
  • How much lost? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by robo_mojo (997193) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:36PM (#23686235)
    "$31,000 per minute"

    Even if accurate, that's assuming everyone who sees the error message will go somewhere else to buy their books.

    I imagine some people would just wait to buy the book from amazon later when it is up again (probably very soon).
    • by timeOday (582209)
      True, but it's also hard to measure other intangibles such as tarnished image.

      And Amazon, in my mind, doesn't quite have the nice comfy natural monopoly of network effects (think ebay, youtube or even slashdot). Nothing amazon sells cannot be bought elsewhere at about the same price. (That said, I'm a long-term and satisfied Amazon customer who tends to buy there unless I can save several bucks buying elsewhere).

  • I hope it's better than The Cuckoos Egg but I wouldn't know, I couldn't place my order for Stoll's book.
  • by Bryansix (761547) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:58PM (#23686517) Homepage
    When I try I get to a page that says they think I'm a robot and I don't have access to see their website.

    Well I think THEY are the robot. I don't know if I can win this argument...
    • by Dogtanian (588974)
      You: Well I think THEY are the robot. I don't know if I can win this argument...
      Elizamazon: Do you wish that you can win this argument?
    • We're sorry!

      You have been denied access to this feature because we believe you violated the terms, conditions, rules, guidelines or policies of our site in the past. If you believe we have taken this action in error, you may contact us at ad-help-us@amazon.com.

      We apologize for the inconvenience.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Q: Why am I seeing this page?
      A: This page is usually shown when we believe that the request is coming from a robot or other automated source of requests. If you are not a robot please contact us immediately by emailing ad-help-us@amazon.com and we will reinstate your access to our website.

      Q: How can I operate a robot and not get this page?
      A: We understand that there are many legitimate reasons for robots to access our website. We are happy to work with people trying to create robots so that they may do so safely and efficiently. If you are operating a robot and you are seeing this page we'd love to hear from you so that we may better understand your use case and help you to achieve your goals. Please email ad-help-us@amazon.com and we'll help you out - seriously, we aren't mad at you.

      Q: What are some general tips for people writing robots?
      A: First, you should see if there is a better method to get the information you need. For example, Amazon Web Services provides a rich set of APIs to retrieve the information displayed on many of Amazon's web pages (prices, reviews, sales rank, etc). Because Amazon Web Services exposes a stable set of APIs that provide structured data it is often much easier to retrieve information via this method. You'll be able to find out more about Amazon Web Services at http://aws.amazon.com./ [aws.amazon.com] Second, you should identify your robot using a unique user agent string that provdes a way we can get in touch with you if necessary. For example, here is Google's user agent string Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html).

      Using Safari (not logged into an Amazon acct), I get that message. Using Opera (logged in with an acct that has been used for years), I get:

      We're sorry!
      An error occurred when we tried to process your request. Rest assured, we're already working on the problem and expect to resolve it shortly.

      If you were trying to make a purchase, please check Your Account to confirm that the order was placed.

      We apologize for the inconvenience.

      They havin' problems. ;)

    • by Kelson (129150) * on Friday June 06, 2008 @06:42PM (#23688715) Homepage Journal
      How do you feel about the fact that that you think they are the robot?
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:20PM (#23686847)
    It's all you people not typing in the write web address. Try it again. Make sure you put in the umlaut correctly. What do you mean there's no umlaut in Amazon.com? *Unplugs toaster and plugs back in Amazon's server* Wait 5 minutes and try again. --BOFH
  • by DirePickle (796986) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:24PM (#23686927)

    would cost Amazon more than $31,000 per minute on average.
    Because obviously if someone tries to buy something and Amazon is broken for an hour, they're just going to not-buy it or buy it from a competitor. Because you definitely can't wait an extra hour to place an order when it'll take 2-10 days for the product to get shipped to you anyway.
    • Because obviously if someone tries to buy something and Amazon is broken for an hour, they're just going to not-buy it or buy it from a competitor. Because you definitely can't wait an extra hour to place an order when it'll take 2-10 days for the product to get shipped to you anyway.

      Well, they will frequently come back, yes. But the site being down also affects consumer confidence in a big way and that will make fewer people likely to go to the site.

      So, using the metric of exactly how much you sell in a given time period is likely inaccurate, but I suspect the actual impact is higher, not lower.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Otter (3800)
        But the site being down also affects consumer confidence in a big way and that will make fewer people likely to go to the site.

        C'mon, how many people are really going to stop buying from Amazon because their website was down for a few hours on June 6, 2008?

    • by bughunter (10093)
      Subby got it backwards. That's how much the outage is saving me in impulsive purchases.

      Opus:HSN::bughunter:Amazon.com

  • I tried to click on a link for a DIY Home Chemistry Experiment Book and got:

    We're sorry!

    An error occurred when we tried to process your request. Rest assured, we're already working on the problem and expect to resolve it shortly.

    If you were trying to make a purchase, please check Your Account to confirm that the order was placed.

    We apologize for the inconvenience.

      on the Amazon.com home page
  • thinks I am a robot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hloo (758762) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:44PM (#23687215) Homepage
    tried to access it from holland just now, got this message: We're sorry! You have been denied access to this feature because we believe you violated the terms, conditions, rules, guidelines or policies of our site in the past. If you believe we have taken this action in error, you may contact us at ad-help-us@amazon.com. We apologize for the inconvenience. Frequently Asked Questions Q: Why am I seeing this page? A: This page is usually shown when we believe that the request is coming from a robot or other automated source of requests. If you are not a robot please contact us immediately by emailing ad-help-us@amazon.com and we will reinstate your access to our website.
    • by jnana (519059)

      I got this too, and I thought it was because I set up a little script that checked the homepage every 5 seconds to let me know when it came back up (because I wanted to purchase something today and get it ASAP).

      I sent them an email to that address, and I had access again an hour later. I didn't get a response from them though, so I don't know if they did something to unblock my IP address or if it had nothing to do with my script and was just related to the outage.

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I would login to post this but I'm afraid of losing my "mole".

    I received word about 30 minutes ago that Amazon has been the victim of a DDoS attack this morning. At first, their Ops team didn't realize they were under attack and thought it was a traffic spike related to a promotion, but after about an hour of throwing hardware at the surge they realized what it was. And once they tubed the source IPs in the botnet another crop of zombies showed up.

    It looks like they are getting a handle on it now as thing
  • AWS and EC2 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrHanser (845654) on Friday June 06, 2008 @05:02PM (#23687461) Homepage

    A bit strange, the people wondering why this is news. Amazon provides the backend for a number of web services with their EC2 and AWS platforms. This is going to make third parties seriously consider whether or not they want to trust Amazon with their business.

    That is yet another reason why this is Real News(tm).

    • Re:AWS and EC2 (Score:5, Informative)

      by dave420 (699308) on Friday June 06, 2008 @05:44PM (#23688013)
      Not particularly. Their S3 and EC2 services are completely seperate from their webserver. All throughout this outage, S3 and EC2 have been running flawlessly, as usual. If anything, this is a great reflection on how resilient their clusters are.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DrHanser (845654)

        I know it's been running fine, I happen to use AWS.

        But for business purposes, that fact isn't going to matter much to a PHB. What a PHB is going to remember is "Gee, didn't they have a serious outage a little while ago... better use something else!" Even if the best solution is, in fact, AWS + EC2.

        Perception is more important than reality in business, unfortunately.

  • by gozu (541069) on Friday June 06, 2008 @05:02PM (#23687463) Journal
    Amazon: A credit to Jeff Bezos. I love Amazon prime, I enjoy my Kindle, I like the prices and the one click purchases and the mp3 previews and the look inside the book and the no-bullshit mp3 store (which I don't use) and the useful reviews and the decent recommendations, etc ! Amazon almost never leaves a bad taste in my mouth and keeps innovating with features that are actually not RETARDED or HOSTILE to me! ZOMG!

    Amazon is as good as eBay-Paypal is evil. Both are outstanding products but one is loved and one is hated.

    Sooo...in the time that I wrote this post, Amazon lost enough money to sustain me my entire life. That's sad.
  • Cost of outage (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sugarmotor (621907) on Friday June 06, 2008 @05:03PM (#23687469) Homepage

    a full-scale global outage would cost Amazon more than $31,000 per minute on average.
    I don't trust this; some people may buy later if there is an outage, no?

    Stephan

    • by yorugua (697900)

      a full-scale global outage would cost Amazon more than $31,000 per minute on average.
      I don't trust this; some people may buy later if there is an outage, no?

      Stephan

      and maybe some others may not. within that hour, some may reconsider, others may go to other website. A two hours outage might mean $80.000 in lost sales, because more people decided to buy will start looking someplace else.
      • Some might, some might not.

        It just looks a little simple to divide revenue of a quarter down to the hour and use that as an estimate for the cost of the outage.

        For example I wouldn't be surprised if half of the buyers return later on to order the books they couldn't because of an outage.

        Stephan
  • Down again (Score:3, Informative)

    by jnana (519059) on Friday June 06, 2008 @06:09PM (#23688315) Journal
    It was just down for me again at 15:08 PST (same "service unavailable" HTTP error), after it had been working again for a while, so they clearly have not completely resolved whatever the issues were.
  • I run a blog that uses one of amazon's wishlist widgets, and my first indication that something was wrong was that my wishlist wasn't being loaded in the side bar.
  • by CorporalKlinger (871715) on Friday June 06, 2008 @06:49PM (#23688791)
    CNET has updated the post to include a statement from Amazon.com that the outage is over. The total downtime was something like 5 hours. From the CNET follow-up article [cnet.com]:

    "But as to the explanation, the company only hinted that its complicated computing infrastructure was, unsurprisingly, a culprit.

    'Amazon's systems are very complex and on rare occasions, despite our best efforts, they may experience problems. We work to minimize any disruption and to get the site back as quickly as possible," the company said, declining to comment further.'"

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