What Is Fastly? How Outage at Cloud Computing Firm Brought Down the Internet

A global website crash that occurred in the early hours of Tuesday morning is widely reported to have been caused by issues at Fastly, an internet content delivery network used by many major websites.

Social media erupted with reports of websites, including Amazon, eBay, Reddit, and more, all being down after around 6:00 a.m. EDT.

Users who tried to access affected sites were met with a connection failure notice and an "Error 503" message—a generic error message signaling that the server cannot handle a connection request.

Fastly runs what it calls an "edge cloud," which is essentially a service that speeds up website loading times.

Soon after the website crash issues were reported the company said it was experiencing problems with its content delivery network, or CDN—a group of servers spread around the world that work together to provide fast delivery of internet content.

They work by storing website information as physically close to individual internet users as possible, meaning people do not have to fetch data from the original server—which might be based on the other side of the planet—every time they access a site.

The majority of web traffic is directed through CDNs, including traffic for major platforms like Facebook and Amazon. A CDN does not actually host the website, but it does improve website performance.

Other providers of CDN services include Cloudflare, Amazon CloudFront, and StackPath.

Shortly after Fastly became aware of an issue with its CDN services it began issuing regular updates every few minutes and within an hour had identified the cause and implemented a fix.

A Fastly update, issued at 7:57 a.m. EDT, stated: "A fix was applied at 10:36 UTC (6:36 EDT). Customers may continue to experience decreased cache hit ratio and increased origin load as global services return."

It said the incident affected Asia/Pacific, South America, North America, South Africa, Europe, and India.

Fastly explained the cause further in a tweet, stating: "We identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions across our POPs globally and have disabled that configuration. Our global network is coming back online."

A POP stands for Point of Presence. It refers to an access point or physical location at which two or more networks or devices share a connection.

In the replies to the tweet some users praised Fastly for what they saw as a quick response.

Good job! Thanks for the fast response and update! #hugops pic.twitter.com/yZfTMlNi7e

— Magno Logan (@magnologan) June 8, 2021

Shares in Fastly (FSLY) are at time of writing priced at around $49.80 in pre-market trading, down 1.78 percent from Monday's close. The company is valued at around $5.8 billion.

Cloud computing
A stock image shows an artist's depiction of a cloud computing network. After website crash issues were reported, Fastly said it was experiencing problems with its content delivery network, or CDN. Denis Isakov/Getty