Netflix customers hoping to stream a movie with their family this Christmas may have had to turn to watching the Yule Log channel instead, courtesy of a widespread Netflix outage that the company is blaming on its cloud computing service provider Amazon Web Services.
Heavy demand on Christmas caused the breakdown at Amazon’s data center in northern Virginia. As the New York Times explains, the problem was likely related to a failure of Amazon’s “elastic load balancing” service that spreads high traffic loads across many different servers. Netflix had also prepared measures to prevent such outages, such as buying excess server capacity to prepare for spikes in activity, and storing data in different “zones” to minimize the impact of any given failure. These didn’t work on Monday night.
An emerging concept called content-centric networking (see “A Rewired Internet Would Speed Up Content Delivery”) might have helped Netflix and Amazon in exactly this situation.
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