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Amazon Goes Dark

Amazon.com went dark today, in a complete outage lasting 41 minutes, according to AlertSite, a vendor of products and services for Web performance measurement, systems monitoring and security vulnerability scanning.

According to AlertSite, which monitors Amazon.com performance, along with that of 40 other top Web sites, the Amazon.com home page was unavailable between 1:21 p.m. and 2:02 p.m. EST. The site also contained sporadic errors from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. EST, reducing total availability of the Web site to customers to 25 percent.

"From all 15 of their worldwide locations, the Amazon.com homepage was down," said AlertSite vice president of marketing Ken Godskind. "When you went there, you got an error in your browser, not even a page that said, 'We have temporary problems.' Obviously, this was unplanned."

Amazon.com didn't respond to requests to verify or explain the outage, but an operator who answered the company's main phone number said it was probably true. A customer service rep told internetnews.com, "Earlier today, they were upgrading the system, and it did slow it down a bit. It should be fixed now."

AlertSite Godskind pointed out that the 41-minute glitch reduced the company's total availability for the month -- assuming 100 percent possible uptime -- by more than .1 percent. "If Amazon.com has a 41-minute outage during the lunch hour, it probably left impressions on a million people," he said.

It likely left an impression on earnings, as well. Amazon.com net sales for its first fiscal quarter, ending March 31, 2005, were $1.90 billion. With 90 days in the quarter, and 2,160 hours, the e-commerce giant raked in roughly $8.8 million an hour.

Because this was the lunch hour on the East Coast in the U.S., the damage could be higher.

Of course, a company with the heft of Amazon.com might consider that chump change. The company didn't respond to requests to verify or explain the outage.

Outages have plagued the Internet's biggest sites. In June 2004, hosting provider Akami confirmed a brief stint offline due to a distributed Denial-of-Service attack.

On May 2005, Google experienced a 15-minute period of darkness, the result of an undisclosed DNS issue.



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