AWS outage leaves millions in the dark, points to need for better API monitoring

Millions of users of popular apps, such as Facebook, Ring, Alexa, Disney+, and more were left scratching their heads wondering when they would be back online due to a widespread Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage Tuesday.

The outages were centered on a number of core AWS services in the US-EAST-1 Region, including increased API error rates with Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud and Amazon Connect, which handles contact center calls.

We are seeing impact to multiple AWS APIs in the US-EAST-1 Region. This issue is also affecting some of our monitoring and incident response tooling, which is delaying our ability to provide updates. Services impacted include: EC2, Connect, DynamoDB, Glue, Athena, Timestream, and Chime and other AWS Services in US-EAST-1. The root cause of this issue is an impairment of several network devices in the US-EAST-1 Region. We are pursuing multiple mitigation paths in parallel, and have seen some signs of recovery, but we do not have an ETA for full recovery at this time. Root logins for consoles in all AWS regions are affected by this issue, however customers can login to consoles other than US-EAST-1 by using an IAM role for authentication.

AWS Service Health Dashboard

Even though the outage originated in the eastern United States, the trickle down effect produced increased error messages across almost the entire country impacting everything from payment apps, airline reservations systems, car rental agencies and video streaming services. The outage even caused many of the mammoth online retailer’s distribution centers to grind to a halt as engineers scrambled to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Of particular interest is the effect on APIs, which link the technological ecosystems of many organizations. APIs allow businesses to monetize data, establish profitable partnerships and open new doors encouraging innovation and growth. APIs also play a major role in in website uptime. The more APIs you use, the more likely you’ll bump into downtime that can impact your app’s performance. While no one expects 100% uptime, five nines, or 99.999% uptime is the gold standard for system accessibility.

As the number APIs connecting to various platforms grows by the day, ensuring that inevitable API downtime doesn’t degrade the user experience takes center stage, and with that comes the need for enhanced API monitoring.

APIs fuel your business and knowing when they break is key to mitigating problems and getting as much information as possible to diagnose underlying problems before they affect your customer base. An advanced, multi-step API monitoring plan allows you to build, test and check your APIs for performance, function and uptime. Key to keeping your APIs up and running 24/7 is an enhanced monitoring solution that offers:

  • Multi-step monitoring – testing APIs from top to bottom by setting up multiple HTTP requests and retrieving data from each request to perform tasks in other steps.
  • Performance monitoring – checking the performance of every request, setting assertions for maximum response times and spotting trends in your performance dashboards.
  • Verifying API functionality – testing redirects, authentication, perform CRUD, or any other API interaction, and monitoring for result codes and checking if your API returns expected content.
  • Monitoring your APIs from hundreds of global checkpoints – apply Concurrent Monitoring to test from several locations simultaneously.
  • Getting immediate alerts – know the moment your API is in trouble with alerts and escalations from Uptrends.

Outages of the kind involving AWS and other cloud computing platforms are often complex and can have major consequences for individuals, companies and governments downstream. They can take substantial resources to recover from, especially monetarily.

API monitoring provides the type of benefits allowing organizations to get in front of the type of outages witnessed recently, mitigate downtime and is especially important for those engaged in e-commerce. Ask us about API monitoring and any other monitoring solutions Uptrends can offer your business.