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Amazon Apologizes for Netflix Christmas Eve Streaming Outage

1 Jan, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The apology comes as Netflix reports problems with its disc rental Web page

Amazon’s Web services unit (AWS) Dec. 31 issued a formal apology for the Christmas Eve breakdown in a Virginia-based content delivery system (CDN) facility that helps deliver digital streaming data traffic among Internet servers.

While the e-commerce behemoth didn’t mention Netflix by name, the subscription video-on-demand leader’s service was knocked out Dec. 24 throughout much of the country after a developer at the East Coast Elastic Load Balancing System inadvertently deleted data during routine maintenance.

“We want to apologize,” Amazon said in a statement. “We know how critical our services are to our customers’ businesses, and we know this disruption came at an inopportune time for some of our customers. We will do everything we can to learn from this event and use it to drive further improvement in the ELB service.”

The issue at AWS’ oldest CDN facility in Ashburn, Va., was corrected Dec. 25. It did not affect Amazon’s rival Prime Instant Video service, which, at the time, relied on Amazon’s newer data facilities in California, Oregon and elsewhere.

Amazon said it has installed new protocols that require developers receive management approval in the field prior to executing “operational processes,” which it said are currently being automated.

“This access was incorrectly set to be persistent rather than requiring a per-access approval,” AWS said.

Netflix during the summer launched its own CDN called “Open Connect,” which at the time handled about 5% of its data distribution. It plans to eventually distribute all of its streaming data through Open Connect.

"Netflix is designed to handle failure of all or part of a single availability zone in a region as we run across three zones and operate with no loss of functionality on two," Adrian Cockcroft with the SVOD pioneer wrote in a Dec. 31 blog post. "We are working on ways of extending our resiliency to handle partial or complete regional outages."

Separately, Netflix Dec. 31 acknowledged that its disc rental homepage was experiencing sporadic technical difficulties. 

“We are experiencing some technical difficulty with the Netflix DVD website, which as a result may not be available for all members," the service said in a statement. "Our engineers are working to address this issue."

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