Weekend website troubles raise questions over internet reliability

leap second Weekend website troubles raise questions over internet reliability

Storms and the “leap second” have caused severe downtime for many websites over the weekend, including popular services like Reddit, Foursquare, Netflix, Instagram, and Amazon Web Services, raising questions over the reliability of the internet in the face of relatively simple obstacles.

Storms and the “leap second” have caused severe downtime for many websites over the weekend, including popular services like Reddit, Foursquare, Netflix, Instagram, and Amazon Web Services, raising questions over the reliability of the internet in the face of relatively simple obstacles.

 
The United States has suffered lightning storms in recent days, with many along the East Coast left without power, which has caused a knock-on effect to any internet-based service operating in the area. 
 
This meant that Amazon Web Services was partly knocked offline, with even its back-up generator roasted by the storms. Since many companies rely on this service for hosting, thousands of other websites were affected by downtime. Netflix, Instagram and Reddit were also affected.
 
Nature is one thing, but the addition of an extra second added to the world clock, designed to address fluctuations in the Earth's rotation, resulted in chaos in the way many feared the Millenium Bug would.
 
leap second Weekend website troubles raise questions over internet reliability
 
The leap second added to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) at midnight on 30 June meant that many services that rely on the precision of time to deliver data suffered disruption, including severe errors where data was out of sync or missing entirely.
 
Websites affected by this included Reddit, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Gawker, and StumbleUpon, among many others. Even online booking systems were disrupted, and doubtless there were other incidents around the world as a result of the extra second.
 
Google avoided the problem by dividing the extra second throughout the day, adding just a few milliseconds at a time over regular intervals. This meant its clocks had already taken the extra second into account before it was suddenly added to UTC.
 
The disruption raises questions about the reliability of the internet in the face of such relatively simple issues. 
 
Electrical storms are a common occurrence, and when even backup generators face outage because of them it suggests we have not yet developed sufficient protection for computer equipment from the forces of nature. 
 
The leap year issue is a computer problem, but since Google was able to bypass any difficulties, and since 25 leap seconds have been added since 1972, this is more of a sign of lack of preparation than lack of skill. In fact, Google shared its "leap smear" solution on a blog last September, giving many services ample time to copy its approach and save themselves and their customers many headaches.
 
Source: BBC