Dozens of websites in the U.S. and Europe briefly went dark Tuesday, victims of an internal glitch at a major cloud-service provider and the latest example of how a problem at a single player in the internet’s piping can have outsize repercussions.
Sites including the U.K. government’s main public-services portal and several major U.S. and European news outlets, such as CNN, the New York Times and Le Monde, were inaccessible to at least some users for roughly an hour, beginning around 6 a.m. Eastern Time.
Those sites went down after Fastly Inc., the operator of a content delivery network service, said it had experienced a configuration problem that affected its infrastructure globally. Websites use Fastly and others like it to speed up their webpages. Content delivery networks essentially store content from those sites on a large number of servers that are closer to end users, reducing the time it takes information to reach them. That speeds up things like website loading and streaming.
The setup, though, can make swaths of the internet vulnerable to failures that affect a single delivery network. In a securities filing, Fastly said it had 336 enterprise clients as of March 31. Tuesday’s interruption caused Fastly’s observed traffic volume to drop by about 75%, according to network monitoring company Kentik Inc.
“The incident highlights the reliance of many of the world’s biggest websites on content delivery networks such as Fastly,” said Toby Stephenson, chief technology officer of British IT services company Neuways Ltd.