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Friday, September 17, 2021

Explained: Why the Akamai outage is worrisome

Akamai faced a disruption on its Edge DNS service that took down platforms such as Zomato, Paytm, parts of Amazon, Airbnb, PlayStation Network, Steam, Disney+Hotstar, etc for a short while.

Written by Pranav Mukul , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 24, 2021 9:11:32 am
This was the second major outage involving a delivery network in as many months that affected internet usage on a global scale.

Global internet infrastructure company Akamai suffered an outage Thursday night that lasted over an hour, taking down several online applications across India and overseas.

This was the second major outage involving a delivery network in as many months that affected internet usage on a global scale.

What is Akamai and what happened Thursday?

Akamai is a global content delivery network (CDN) and cloud services platform that is rented by online content and commerce services apps.

On Thursday, Akamai faced a disruption on its Edge DNS service that took down platforms such as Zomato, Paytm, parts of Amazon, Airbnb, PlayStation Network, Steam, Disney+Hotstar, etc for a short while.

Edge DNS as a technology provides a shorter route for DNS, or domain name services, between a company’s servers and its users, thereby drastically decreasing resolution times and providing low latencies.

What happened in the earlier global internet outage?

In June, a major issue with the content delivery network of American cloud computing services provider Fastly caused several large websites to go down globally for about half an hour.

Just like Akamai, Fastly is a cloud computing services provider, which offers CDN, edge computing, cloud storage services.

What is the significance of these outages?

While the Akamai and Fastly outages were large scale in that they affected major internet outlets across the world, there has been an increasing trend of internet outages. In a note S&P Global said that global internet outages grew by 28% during the week of July 10, to 360, marking the third consecutive week of gains, according to data from ThousandEyes, a network-monitoring service owned by Cisco Systems Inc.

Even as the internet was originally conceptualised as a decentralised network, experts believe that a handful of infrastructure companies like Akamai, Fastly, Amazon Web Services have become concentrated centres providing their services to major internet platforms. This, especially after a flood of enterprises — both small and large — increasing their digitisation efforts after the pandemic. The concentrated nature of internet services is also what is making the world wide web less and less fault-resistant.

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