Internet users reported service outages on a number of websites this morning following an outage in the Cloudflare content delivery network. According to DownDetector.com, users reported issues on sites including Google, AWS, and Twitter as of around 7:20 a.m. UK time.
At 7:43 a.m., Cloudflare said on its health monitoring site that it was investigating a “critical P0 incident” (P0 refers to the highest possible priority).
“Cloudflare’s network connectivity was disrupted across large areas,” he said. “Eyeballs attempting to reach Cloudflare sites in affected regions will see 500 errors. The incident impacts all data plan services in our network. »
Cloudflare later said it had identified the flaw, implemented a fix, and was monitoring the results. At 9:30 a.m., Cloudflare said all of its services were up and running.
What is Cloudflare?
Cloudflare is a content delivery network and edge computing provider that many web services use to improve performance and security. The Company operates a network of data centers from which it provides web content, such as images and videos, to customers. The proximity of these data centers to users means that websites load faster, which improves the user experience.
The company also helps protect its customers’ websites against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
Cloudflare has 39% of the content delivery network market, according to enlyft figures, with Amazon’s CloudFront in second place with 23%. More than a million businesses use its services, according to enlyft.
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What does the Cloudflare outage mean for users?
Today’s outage is likely to reignite questions about web centralization. A year ago, an outage at Fast.ly, another CDN provider, disrupted websites such as Reddit and Amazon.
At the time, Gartner analyst Mike Dorosh said the incident could prompt CDNs to invest more in their resilience. “Everything in this space lately has been about performance and speeding things up,” he said. “That again can increase resiliency, and you might see vendors start talking about the resiliency of their tools.”
But, he added, it was also a red flag for companies whose services rely on a single CDN. “Whatever you do in technology is only as good as single points of failure.”
The issue of cloud concentration was also raised in December 2020, after a series of outages at AWS. At the time, cloud computing adviser Ian Moyes said that for many industries the benefits of cloud services outweigh the risk of outages.
“When there’s a breakdown, everyone thinks it’s the end of the world, but you have to ask yourself if the gain outweighs the risk,” he said. Technical monitor. “For some industries, price and flexibility [of public cloud] it’s worth the risk of an outage, but for others like games, even a few minutes of downtime is not tolerable for users.”
UK financial regulators have sounded the alarm over the potential impact of cloud concentration on the UK financial system. According to the Bank of England, 65% of UK businesses use the same four cloud providers.
To address this risk, HM Treasury recently proposed giving regulators the power to inspect cloud providers’ data centers to check their security and resilience measures.
Cloudflare in Russia
Today’s outage isn’t the only reason Cloudflare has been in the news lately. The company is one of the few Western tech companies to continue operating in Russia after that country invaded Ukraine.
In a blog post in April, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said the company helps Russian citizens circumvent internet controls through its virtual private network service WARP, and described the company’s edge servers in the country as a “front line against cyberattacks” originating from inside Russia. .