Here are some of the highlights, such as a general summary…
The issues affecting EC2 customers last week primarily involved a subset of the Amazon Elastic Block Store (“EBS”) volumes in a single Availability Zone within the US East Region that became unable to service read and write operations. In this document, we will refer to these as “stuck” volumes. This caused instances trying to use these affected volumes to also get “stuck” when they attempted to read or write to them. In order to restore these volumes and stabilize the EBS cluster in that Availability Zone, we disabled all control APIs (e.g. Create Volume, Attach Volume, Detach Volume, and Create Snapshot) for EBS in the affected Availability Zone for much of the duration of the event. For two periods during the first day of the issue, the degraded EBS cluster affected the EBS APIs and caused high error rates and latencies for EBS calls to these APIs across the entire US East Region. As with any complicated operational issue, this one was caused by several root causes interacting with one another and therefore gives us many opportunities to protect the service against any similar event reoccurring.
the initial cause of the outage…
At 12:47 AM PDT on April 21st, a network change was performed as part of our normal AWS scaling activities in a single Availability Zone in the US East Region. The configuration change was to upgrade the capacity of the primary network. During the change, one of the standard steps is to shift traffic off of one of the redundant routers in the primary EBS network to allow the upgrade to happen. The traffic shift was executed incorrectly and rather than routing the traffic to the other router on the primary network, the traffic was routed onto the lower capacity redundant EBS network. For a portion of the EBS cluster in the affected Availability Zone, this meant that they did not have a functioning primary or secondary network because traffic was purposely shifted away from the primary network and the secondary network couldn’t handle the traffic level it was receiving. As a result, many EBS nodes in the affected Availability Zone were completely isolated from other EBS nodes in its cluster. Unlike a normal network interruption, this change disconnected both the primary and secondary network simultaneously, leaving the affected nodes completely isolated from one another.
and how Amazon is meeting their SLA for those customers affected by the outage.
For customers with an attached EBS volume or a running RDS database instance in the affected Availability Zone in the US East Region at the time of the disruption, regardless of whether their resources and application were impacted or not, we are going to provide a 10 day credit equal to 100% of their usage of EBS Volumes, EC2 Instances and RDS database instances that were running in the affected Availability Zone. These customers will not have to do anything in order to receive this credit, as it will be automatically applied to their next AWS bill. Customers can see whether they qualify for the service credit by logging into their AWS Account Activity page.
Amazon has done a great job managing their systems and expanding to new services but this outage is a blemish that won’t easily go away both for them and cloud computing. How they learn from these problems will also have a lot to say about their future. Read the full summary of the disruption for a lot more details on how they plan to prevent future issues and improve their customer management during failures.