Earlier this week, thousands of Apple TV and Amazon Web Services users experienced an unexpected outage. After an extended period of investigating the incident, both companies have identified and patched the cause of the breakdown. According to official statements, the Amazon Alexa AI supporting services were the root cause of the outage and are back up and running without disruption.
1. Apple TV, Amazon’s AWS and Alexa Suffer Outage
This past week saw a number of popular services suffer outages, with Apple TV, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Alexa all going down in certain regions.
Apple TV experienced a 2-hour outage on Monday, with users receiving an error message when they tried to access the service. Apple quickly acknowledged the issue and restored service soon after.
- TV or Apple TV unable to connect to iTunes store
- Error messages appearing when a connection was possible
- Delays in streaming and playback
Amazon’s AWS and Alexa
Amazon’s AWS and Alexa also experienced an interruption, though not as severe as Apple TV. Amazon confirmed that users in some regions encountered an issue reaching Alexa Skills, which allowed general queries using the assistant. Operating performance remained optimal in most other regions.
2. Impact of Outage on Thousands of Users
The outage of a service inevitably impacts the multitude of users it serves. This can have a range of effects, both on the short- and long-term.
- Loss of convenience resulting in frustrated customers
- Data/work loss due to interrupted operations
- Decreased trust in the service/company resulting in lost customers
- Lower customer satisfaction and increased customer turnover
- Increase in customer complaints or negative reviews
- Employee demotivation and productivity loss
To prevent massive impacts of an outage on thousands of users, services must ensure robust operations and downtimes should be kept to a minimum. Taking the necessary measures to ensure this will be beneficial for the company’s reputation and trust in the service.
3. Causes of the Outage
The can be divided into two categories:
- Externally caused power interruptions
- Internally caused power interruptions
Externally caused power interruptions include power line outages caused by disasters, grid instability, or severe weather. There may also be equipment failure due to failing transformers, inadequate power distribution, or too much strain on the system. Other external causes may be due to a change in the power supply source, which can cause the transformer to overheat and fail.
Internally caused power interruptions arise due to inadequate capacity to manage the electrical load, and can be the result of poor maintenance, lack of system redundancy, or overloaded circuits. Poor planning or mismanagement of resources can also lead to a momentary or prolonged power outage.
4. Steps Taken by Apple, Amazon and Alexa to Resolve the Issue
Apple acknowledged the issue by posting an article on the official Apple Support website. They provided a set of instructions to resolve the issue and prevent it from happening again in the future:
- Turn off Find My iPhone on all devices.
- Turn off and back on any affected devices.
- Set up Family Sharing with all Apple IDs.
- Sign out of and back into iCloud, iTunes & App Store, FaceTime and iMessage.
- Verify that all services are working and all devices show up under the family sharing.
Amazon provided an article with interactive troubleshooting options to investigate and fix the issue. They advised users to:
- Restart the Echo device.
- Update the Amazon Home App.
- Check Alexa App Settings.
- Check Amazon Music App.
- Disable and re-enable the appropriate Alexa skill.
Alexa Support released a statement apologizing for the inconvenience and further instructing people to:
- Reboot their devices.
- Check Alexa App Settings.
- Ensure their device’s language is set to the correct language.
- Disable and re-enable Alexa Device Skills.
Apple TV, Amazon’s AWS, and Alexa have all successfully bounced back after a small but significant outage they experienced. This has been a reassuring demonstration of their reliability and can act as a reminder that their services are indispensable in our lives.