Countless popular websites including Reddit, Spotify, Twitch, Stack Overflow, GitHub, gov.uk, Hulu, HBO Max, Quora, PayPal, Vimeo, Shopify, Stripe and the news outlets CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC and Financial Times are currently facing a failure. According to a product manager for the Financial Times, a mistake at Fastly, a popular CDN provider, is the reason. Fastly has confirmed on its status website that it is facing an outage.
“We are currently investigating the potential performance impact of our CDN services,” the company said.
Fastly the CDN provider has a massive outage causing Twitch, Pinterest, Reddit, The Guardian and the FT to return 503 errors. Https://t.co/parKGKwrSU
– Matt ‘TK’ Taylor (@MattieTK) June 8, 2021
Update at 3:50 a.m. PT: Some websites are slowly coming back up. “The problem has been identified and a solution is being implemented,” says Fastly on his status page.
Update at 4:02 a.m. PT: The issue appears to be resolved as the affected websites and services are now loading normally. The company has not yet provided any information about the cause of the failure. In total it took about an hour.
Content delivery networks (CDNs) are an important part of the Internet infrastructure. These companies operate global server networks to improve the performance and availability of web services. CDNs act as proxy servers and cache some data as close as possible to the end user. For example, media content is often cached on a CDN server near you so that it doesn’t have to be fetched on the original server every time a user loads a web page.
Although the web is a digital platform, it is very physical in nature. When you load a page on a server on the other side of the world, it takes hundreds of milliseconds to get the page. Over time, this latency adds up and it feels like a sluggish experience. Typically, if a page is already cached, a CDN can start sending the contents of the page in less than 25 milliseconds.
Over time, CDNs have added other features such as load balancing, DDoS protection, web application firewalls, and other security features. Popular CDNs are Fastly, Cloudflare, CloudFront on Amazon Web Services, and Akamai.
Fastly in particular is very popular with media websites. The company went public in 2019. Fastly stock (NYSE: FSLY) is currently trading at $ 48.06, down 5.21% from yesterday’s closing price.
Today’s problem is not just limited to a data center. Fastly calls it a “Global CDN Disruption” and it sounds like it is affecting the company’s network around the world.