BREAKING: Global Website Outage

by | Jun 8, 2021 | Business | 1 comment

Is this Monday?

A big part of what we offer at Gravity Junction is reliable, 1st-class web hosting. We pride ourselves on the stability and maintenance our clients receive through our web development team and our vendor. So, imagine our dismay on a random Tuesday morning when not one or two of our sites went down, but nearly all of them did.

The Gravity Junction team is a collection of talented individuals who reside all over the US. On this particular Tuesday morning, our Director of Digital Strategy (and resident expert in these types of 911 situations), Mandy Fischer is traveling from Michigan to our HQ in Georgia. Usually early birds, Mandy and our CEO, Sharla are up with the chickens. This morning, Mandy is in Nashville in a hotel. You may have noticed, Michigan and Georgia are not neighbors!

Folks, I am almost never awake before 6 am. But for some strange reason, this morning, I woke up a few minutes before 6 am wide-eyed. Not three minutes later, Sharla messaged me that almost all of our websites are down.

Wait, what? All Of Them?

That has literally never happened in all the years the two of us have been in this industry! I immediately crafted messaging to let our clients know while Sharla ensures we have everyone affected on the email list and off goes the dreaded email saying “oh no” … but “we’re on it”. And, on it, we were. While I’m chatting with our hosting vendor, Sharla is on the phone with them when the reports come in.

The reports?

Major news outlets, The White House, our beloved Hulu were down! Countless websites in even more genres and niches all with different hosting companies are affected.

We are talking about a Global Website Outage! #WhatintheWorld

Here’s a very partial list of sites you might recognize that were down:
Bloomberg News
The Financial Times
The Guardian
The New York Times
Stack Overflow
UK Government
The White House

Upon hearing this news, I suspect tomfoolery (hackers) or maybe one little mouse in a giant server room who chewed the exact right wire. Bear with me and imagine that mouse looking a little like Jerry (ala Tom & Jerry), I can see it.

As it turns out, Fastly, a cloud computing company did have a malfunction in the junction. Fastly is what we call a CDN or a Content Delivery Network. The internet is basically just a system of servers all over the world. All the information we see on any given website has to be stored somewhere so that a website’s code can “call” for it. You see a lovely front-end, but if you looked at the source code of a website you would see areas wherein layman’s terms, the code says “display this photo here”. The code directs where exactly on the page a photo or video displays, how big the photo is, etc.

Websites are capable of holding their own images and videos but generally, the average website owner is not paying for a hosting plan that would be able to serve up a large file, like a video, without it taking a very long time to load. Google is way harsh about how fast a site loads, and will penalize you for keeping site visitors waiting. That’s why we use CDNs. If you think about the images or video on your own website, you can imagine the size of the files for sites like Reddit, Twitch, or CNN. Without getting too technical, when servers can’t reach each other to get the things they need to display, you get errors like the one that seemingly everyone got while trying to do anything online.

Fastly has not yet released a statement proclaiming that Jerry chewed a wire, nor have they said exactly what happened. By the time you jumped in the shower for work this morning, the issue was mostly resolved. At Gravity Junction, our sites were down for less than 30 minutes.

It was a pretty grueling 30 minutes. While we are comforted by the fact that we were not alone in this outage, we still have questions. We are charged with helping our clients thrive online. We can’t do that with a 503 error. Rest assured, the Gravity Junction team will continue to learn more about why this happened and keep you in the loop.

#fastly #internetoutage #globalwebsiteoutage #websiteoutage #cdnoutage

1 Comment

  1. Sharla

    Certainly not the way we wanted to wake up this morning. Who knows if this is another hacker attack, regardless of details, it’s annoying & shows how fast the world is affected by something other than Covid.
    Technology connects us all, what would we do if it went down for real?
    Like for days?
    How would we act?
    Would a long-term outage cause a non-disease related Panic-Demic?
    I don’t know, but I don’t like the thought of it in the least.


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