Netflix blames Amazon for Christmas Eve outage

Many Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) subscribers settling in to watch (or avoid watching) holiday movies on Monday evening received an unpleasant surprise in the form of an error message saying that the service couldn't be accessed.  According to Netflix, a service outage on web servers provided by Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) Web Services caused the company's service to be unavailable on a number of streaming devices.

Service technicians working through Christmas Eve restored service by Tuesday morning, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Amazon's AWS-EAST-1 servers located in Virginia were "at the heart of this outage," GigaOM reported Monday night, with Netflix technicians noting an increase in errors on its Elastic Load Balancing API calls. Elastic load balancers distribute incoming traffic across servers to better manage increased demand.

This isn't the first time Amazon Web Services has been blamed for outages at major sites. Reddit, Foursquare, and several other websites experienced difficulties in October after AWS East had problems with its Elastic Block Storage (EBS) service, and two outages occurred in June, one after a massive thunderstorm in the area.

Even more interesting, and something that has tongues wagging at some tech sites, is that the Amazon Prime Instant Video service worked just fine as Netflix struggled with its outage, on what is arguably one of the biggest nights of the year for online video streaming.

GigaOM's Barb Darrow noted this as one of the big issues that online video providers face by using AWS. "Working with AWS now is a lot like a software company partnering with Microsoft in the 80s and 90s--it's both your biggest partner and your biggest rival so tread carefully."

For more:
- Wall Street Journal has this story (sub. req.)
- GigaOM has this story

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