Amazon Web Services, which provides cloud computing services to many companies, governments, and universities, experienced a major outage on Tuesday that disrupted access to websites and electronic services.
Amazon acknowledged the outage shortly after 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, saying it was affecting multiple application programming interfaces in the eastern United States. By about 6 p.m., Amazon said many of its services had recovered, though some were still experiencing outages.
In Boston, the outage caused a range of disruptions. The city’s transportation department said its ParkBoston app was down and could not be used to pay for parking. The department posted on Twitter that it would not ticket vehicles at meters that had not been paid for, a rare reprieve for drivers.
ALERT: Due to the Amazon Web Services outages, the ParkBoston App is currently down and cannot be used to pay for parking. Also, we are not ticketing right now.— BostonTransportation (@BostonBTD) December 7, 2021
The local public bicycle-share program, Bluebikes, was also affected and warned that “users may see some delays and errors in trying to rent bikes.”
ALERT: Our software was impacted by the AWS outage and users may see some delays and errors in trying to rent bikes. We apologize for the inconvenience, if you experience an error, please wait a moment and try again— Bluebikes (@RideBluebikes) December 8, 2021
At Boston College, a business student tweeted that the Canvas website for students and faculty was down, keeping her from submitting an assignment.
AWS is down! How has this affected you? I can't access canvas to submit an assignment and the Park Boston app isn't working... #ISYS8621 #D— Kayla Cyrs (@KaylaCyrs) December 7, 2021
A Jamaica Plain resident commented that the outage affected his Alexa device at home, forcing him to “turn on my lights with a switch now like some kind of barbarian.”
Well Alexa is affected by the AWS outage, so I guess I have to turn on my lights with a switch now like some kind of barbarian.— Mike Lewis-Swanson (@milewis1) December 7, 2021
The outage also affected news organizations, including The Associated Press, which announced the outage in a tweet just past noon. The Boston Globe was unable to publish news stories online from about 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
BREAKING: Users say Amazon Web Services is suffering a major outage. The company provides cloud computing services to individuals, universities, governments and companies including The Associated Press.— The Associated Press (@AP) December 7, 2021
Amazon has yet to comment on the outage and few details are available.
Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Kentik Inc, a network intelligence firm, told the Associated Press that problems began on the East Coast midmorning.
“AWS is the biggest cloud provider and us-east-1 is their biggest data center, so any disruption there has big impacts to many popular websites and other internet services,” he said.
Customers were affected while trying to access Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, Instacart, Venmo, Kindle, Roku, Disney+, and the McDonald’s app, according to the AP.
Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.