So, you might have noticed recently for several hours that services like Amazon, Shopify, Twitch, Spotify, and many more of the popular internet services were offline and not accessible. It wasn’t just you, it was happening across the world. Fastly, a company that provides global CDN infrastructure and services to some of your favorite websites and internet services, experienced what they called a “glitch.”

Let’s first clarify something: this was not an “internet outage,” the internet was working just fine. The problem here is that a service provider (Fastly) to some of the world’s most popular internet services, experienced a problem that in turn made their services inaccessible to you and me and everyone else around the world.

At this stage, you might be asking “what is a CDN?”

📷 How Fastly's CDN service works.

CDN is short for “Content Delivery Network.” In simple terms, a CDN is a network of content servers all around the world in different geographic locations. They cache internet content so that every request you and I make to internet service is not necessarily served every time from the originating server. This makes delivery of content quicker especially when you also consider that such servers are spread across the world, closer to users. Of course, the first request a user makes for such static content is served directly from the origin server.

After that, such static content is cached on the CDN and served from the CDN for any consequent user who requests it. This is also how Fastly works. (Of course, there are other technical considerations, but this is the brief explanation).

As you can imagine, any disruption to a CDN (in the case of Fastly, they said a configuration problem caused an error across all their servers globally) can be a problem for the internet services that rely on it as they route static content requests through the CDN. This highlights the problem with the World Wide Web as we know it today.

The thing is, the internet, by design, is decentralized. It’s a network of millions of computers interconnected to each other. If one fails, the internet continues to work. The problem is that we have now put faith in a few internet services, in turn, these internet services have put faith in a few service providers. This is fragile and needs to be corrected.

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Thought of the Day

The problem we have nowadays is that we put faith in a few internet services, in turn, these internet services have put faith in a few service providers. This makes for a fragile web and needs to be corrected. (Tweet this | Share on WhatsApp)

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