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How Fastly Failed And Why It Is Nothing New

On Tuesday, one of the top dogs of CDN services suffered from a 49-minute outage, and as a result, multiple leading websites which it serves were out of operation. While the company was able to identify the "bug" in the system immediately, the issue posed potent questions about how the most important service in the world is regulated by a small number of behind-the-screen players.

Fastly Inc. (FSLY) is a content delivery network (CDN) that is responsible for the timely uploading of content from major news portals and other services, including the British Government official website, faster across the world. Some other major clients of the service include the New York Times, the Guardian, Shopify, Pinterest, Etsy, Twitch, Reddit, Buzzfeed, and many more leaders of the internet. The company distributes the content through a complex network of mirror servers to 26 countries.

While the outage, happening in short succession from the Colonial Pipeline outage and the SolarWinds cyber attack, made experts speculate it as another example of a rogue agency at work. But the company statement cleared the air and said that the outage was the result of a bug that was there in the last software update. The bug was triggered by a configuration change attempted by a customer.

The senior VP of the company, Nick Rockwell said, "We experienced a global outage due to an undiscovered software bug that surfaced on June 8 when it was triggered by a valid customer configuration change."

However, internet outage is neither a thing of the past nor too rare to remember. With the entire world connected to a single web, one drop can cause a long ripple. In 2016, websites like Amazon, Airbnb, BBC, CNN, Twitter, Netflix were down in the United States after a Dyn faced multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks. The attack was primarily a result of a wide range of malware vulnerabilities in multiple internet-connected devices.

In 2017, due to a faux-pas by an IT maintenance worker switching off one of the "uninterruptable power supply" switches, British Airways suffered an IT crash causing a huge financial loss to the company as well as inevitable harassment to thousands of passengers.

Perhaps the closest to Fastly's outage is the 2017 breakdown of Amazon Web Services. Popular websites like Quora, Business Insider, Giphy, Slack, and many other sites were down for four hours. The root of the problem was in the US-East-1 Data Center where the breakdown happened as multiple applications clogged the facility.

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