Portions of New York Times, ProPublica sites disabled by Amazon server outage

EC2Disabled.com / Amazon Web Services / Mashable
Portions of some major websites — including a few news sites — that rely on Amazon's Elastic Cloud Computing, or EC2, have been down most of Thursday due to major problems at a server farm on the East Coast.

Among those affected:

Mashable noted earlier today that social media services such as HootSuite and Foursquare were also affected.

When I talked with news technologists earlier this year about challenges facing news app development, they all spoke of how essential cloud computing is for their work. Cloud computing is cheap and enables them to quickly expand and contract their server capacity. The outage is sure to spark discussion about the weaknesses of relying on cloud servers in a single location. || Nerd joke of the day, from Jeremy Bowers at The Washington Post: "The takeaway: Diversify your architecture or serve ads on your 500 page."

Here's what Aron Pilhofer, head of the news apps team at the Times, said about the outage:

"To be honest, I'm not terribly critical of Amazon on this. Believe me, outages are going to happen no matter where you have your applications, and Amazon is no exception to that. In fact, they have been remarkably stable since we dove into EC2 three or so years ago. Until today, we have had no significant downtime, and that is pretty remarkable. So as frustrating as this is, over the long haul Amazon has had an amazing record for us, so I, anyway, am going to cut them some slack on this."

Here are some of the 500 page messages, from the most useful to the least (Disclosure: ours would be one of the least.):

[caption id="attachment_129048" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Reddit explains what's working, what isn't and why."][/caption]

Foreign Policy magazine tells users they can find content on Twitter and Facebook, where they're posting full stories today.

[caption id="attachment_129049" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="EveryBlock explains the hosting setup and offers ways to stay informed."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_129050" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="HootSuite reminds users of alternatives."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_129052" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="A Times employee suggests instead: "The Times regrets the server error.""][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_129053" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Quora offers no explanation for the outage."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_129054" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="ProPublica's message is the most generic."][/caption]

ProPublica updated its message. After a daylong outage, "soon" is relative.
  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


Related News

Email IconGroup 3Facebook IconLinkedIn IconsearchGroupTwitter IconGroup 2YouTube Icon