A range of websites supported by Fastly appeared to go down at around 11am today, with sites such as The Guardian and the Independent displaying ‘Error 503 Service Unavailable’ static displays rather than loading their websites as usual.
Among those hit were the UK Government’s website, Gov.UK, Amazon The Guardian, Reddit, Spotify and the New York Times.
Those using Twitter could also see the impact of ‘connection failure’ and issues with Fastly’s content delivery network services as Twitter servers hosting its emojis appeared only as broken image links.
What is Fastly?
Fastly is a cloud computing service, much like Amazon Web Services (AWS) which provides ‘edge cloud’ services designed to allow websites to provide content quickly and efficiently, speeding up webpage loading times and helping to protect sites from cyber threats such as Distributed Denial of Service attacks.
It describes its services as ‘edge cloud’ because it states that it places developer tools at the edge of the cloud, operating on more instant data and real-time services rather than the big data underpinning cloud computing.
What is a CDN?
A Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network is used to describe a densely-distributed network of servers and data centres which optimise web page content to load quickly without delays by reducing the physical distance between end users and servers.
Fastly’s CDN is used by numerous sites, and so can cause widespread server issues and bring websites to a complete halt as it is situated between clients and their end users.
What does Error 503 mean?
A 503 Service Unavailable Error is an HTTP response status code which indicates that a server is unable to handle a request, typically appearing when a server is overloaded or undergoing maintenance.
When will the issue be resolved?
Many sites, such as the BBC appeared to have quickly rallied after being hit by the outage.
Fastly posted numerous updates between 11am and 12pm (GMT) to say that it was fixing the error, posting an update at 11.57am which said: ‘The issue has been identified and a fix has been applied. Customers may experience increased origin load as global services return.’
Affected sites have now begun to reappear online as normal.