Amazon site stumbles again Monday

Amazon again experienced site performance problems on Monday, after having issues on Friday.

Online shoppers struggled to enter Amazon.com's main e-commerce site on Monday, after it had experienced similar problems on Friday.

Between 10:03 a.m. and 10:23 a.m. US Pacific Time, only about 30 percent of visitors managed to enter Amazon.com, according to mobile and Internet management firm Keynote Systems, which tracks Web site performance.

After stabilizing, Amazon.com again wobbled, and its availability dropped to about 68 percent between 10:56 a.m. and 11:09 a.m., said Shawn White, Keynote's director of external operations.

After that, the site went back to normal and remains that way at press time.

However, the technical gremlins also hit the company's UK storefront on Monday, and the problems there are ongoing.

The UK site first experienced problems at 10:06 a.m. PT, and its availability dropped as low as 38 percent — meaning that about six of 10 people couldn't enter — but by 12:11 p.m. the availability had climbed back to about 96 percent, White said.

Asked for comment, Amazon provided this statement via e-mail: "Some customers reported intermittent problems accessing Amazon retail Web sites on Monday morning. However, we are working to resolve the issues, and Amazon's web services are not affected."

Even people who managed to enter and browse the sites faced slow performance: While Amazon.com pages typically load in six seconds or less, that average climbed to about 15 seconds during the affected periods, White said.

Gomez, another Web site monitoring firm, puts Amazon's normal average response times between 3 seconds and 8.5 seconds, but that average rose to 14 seconds on Friday and stood in a range of between 2.5 seconds and 14 seconds on Monday.

On Friday, when the availability problems lasted about 3 hours, as well as on Monday, most shoppers having access problems were getting a cryptic error message saying "Http/1.1 Service Unavailable," which means nothing to nontechnical people.

This indicates to White that whatever caused the problem proved hard to isolate, making it impossible for the company to configure its system to trigger a more intelligible alert acknowledging the problem in plain English.

White's guess is that a misconfiguration somewhere in Amazon's complex e-commerce system discombobulated unrelated pieces in its vast network of databases, data centers and application and Web servers.

If this is indeed the cause of the problems, the lesson for Amazon and anyone else is to perform rigorous testing before making any alterations, especially when the change will have an effect on many moving parts in the system, White said.

"The more complex a system is, the more challenging it is to maintain, and a configuration problem here can cause problems somewhere else," he said.

White confirmed Amazon's statement that the company's Amazon Web Services hosted technology services weren't affected by the problems on Friday and Monday.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?