June 21, 2022
Cloudflare experienced a widespread outage early Tuesday that knocked out a significant portion of its global traffic. The company fixed the outage roughly an hour after it started.
Twitter was buzzing with tweets like “half the internet broke this morning with Cloudflare having issues,” and “is Cloudflare the biggest single point of failure for the web today?” Users reported losing access to Amazon, Zoom, Shopify and more.
Cloudflare is one of the biggest networks on the internet. Customers use it for application security and performance.
The company sent us the following statement:
“Earlier today Cloudflare saw an outage across parts of our network. This was not the result of an attack. A network change in some of our data centers caused a portion of our network to be unavailable. Due to the nature of the incident, customers may have had difficulty reaching websites and services that rely on Cloudflare [for approximately one hour]. Cloudflare was working on a fix within minutes, and the network is running normally now. Given Cloudflare’s scale and the percentage of the internet that relies on our network, when we have problems it is vital that we are open and transparent about what happened, why it happened, and what we’re doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Cause and Impact of Cloudflare Outage
Cloudflare also published a blog detailing the cause and impact of the outage.
The outage affected 19 of Cloudflare’s data centers. These locations handle a significant proportion of its global traffic.
“This outage was caused by a change that was part of a long-running project to increase resilience in our busiest locations,” it said. “This incident had widespread impact, and we take availability very seriously. We have identified several areas of improvement and will continue to work on uncovering any other gaps that could cause a recurrence.”
Although Cloudflare has invested significantly in its architecture to improve service availability, “we clearly fell short of our customer expectations with this very painful incident.”
“We are deeply sorry for the disruption to our customers and to all the users who were unable to access internet properties during the outage,” it said. “We have already started working on the changes outlined … and will continue our diligence to ensure this cannot happen again.”
Outages Can Cause Serious Damage to Businesses
Adam Bradshaw is commercial director at ServerChoice. It provides secure colocation, disaster recovery and connectivity services.
“Hundreds of websites being shut down, such as Discord and Shopify, due to an outage at the web infrastructure service, Cloudflare, illuminates the risks businesses are exposed to when being solely reliant on one infrastructure provider,” he said. “While cloud services can undoubtedly be highly advantageous for companies, the ever-present jeopardy of a severe outage is there.”
Outages have the capacity to cause serious reputational and financial damage to businesses, Bradshaw said.
“For [an SMB], the risk associated with such failures in service can be critical,” he said. “Even short outages in the digital economy could cause damage. Diversifying an IT environment reduces the likelihood of third-party outages negatively impacting a business. Owning the hardware gives an organization more control, with IT components such as colocation services providing an organization with a backup when cloud services fail.”
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