Amazon Web Services outage brings some delivery operations to a standstill

Key Points
  • Amazon's cloud computing unit on Tuesday was hit with an outage that took down some websites and services.
  • A notice on AWS' status page confirmed it was experiencing issues in the "US-East-1 Region."
  • The outage brought down popular services like Disney+ and Coinbase, along with critical internal tools at Amazon like its Flex and AtoZ apps used by warehouse and delivery workers.

In this article

Attendees at an annual cloud computing conference
Salvador Rodriguez | Reuters

Amazon's cloud computing unit on Tuesday was hit with an outage that took down some websites and services.

A notice on Amazon Web Services' status page said it was experiencing problems with certain APIs and the AWS Management Console. The issues are impacting AWS' main US-East-1 region hosted in northern Virginia, so not all users may be experiencing outages.

The outage began around 11 a.m. EST. As of Tuesday evening, AWS said in an updated notice that many of the underlying issues causing the outage have been mitigated.

All issues impacting its popular EC2 cloud computing service were resolved as of 6:30 p.m. EST, while other services were still having problems, according to AWS' status page.

"We are seeing improvement in availability across most AWS services," the notice stated. "We continue to work toward full recovery for all impacted AWS Services and API operations."

Among the services that reported issues as a result of the outage were Disney's streaming subscription service, Disney+, Netflix, Slack, Ticketmaster, stock trading app Robinhood, and Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S.

The outage also brought down critical tools used inside Amazon. Warehouse and delivery workers, along with drivers for Amazon's Flex service, reported on Reddit that they couldn't access the Flex app or the AtoZ app, making it impossible to scan packages or access delivery routes.

In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha confirmed Amazon's warehouse and delivery operations were experiencing problems as a result of the AWS outage. Rocha added that the company is "working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible."

Amazon didn't respond to questions about how many warehouses and delivery stations were experiencing issues as a result of the outage.

Amazon sellers also reported they were unable to access Seller Central, an internal website used to manage customer orders.

In a notice sent to delivery drivers via Amazon Chime, an internal chat app, and viewed by CNBC, the company said it was "currently monitoring a network-wide technical outage" impacting delivery operations.

"Should drivers be unable to continue delivering due to the outage, go to a nearby safe location and stand by," the message continued.

Samuel Caceres, an Amazon driver in Washington state, told CNBC his delivery facility has been "at a standstill" since 8 a.m. PST. Drivers and warehouse workers have been on stand by since then, he added.

Unable to go about their workday, many warehouse and delivery workers were instructed to wait in break rooms until the issues were resolved. Some Flex drivers, which are contracted workers who make deliveries from their own vehicles, weren't able to sign up for shifts and were sent home for the day.

The outage is hitting Amazon's retail operations at a particularly inconvenient time. The company is in the middle of "peak season," when holiday shoppers place a flurry of orders and the e-commerce giant is under immense pressure to make sure their packages arrive on time.

Amazon's in-house delivery arm, made up of contracted delivery companies and independent Flex drivers, is increasingly overseeing that piece of the puzzle. The company delivers about two-thirds of its own packages in the U.S., according to data from ShipMatrix.