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?”
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.
🔗 A group of researchers has revealed important findings that have presented valuable insights for the routing and protection of future subsea cables and what has possibly been causing some of the more recent cable outages. More specifically, they believe that their findings show that the longest undersea mudslide recorded on earth was the cause of outrages of both the SAT-3 and WACS cable outages in recent years. The exceptionally large and powerful submarine mudslide is believed to have originated at the mouth of the Congo River, just 10 days after the Congo River recorded its largest flood since the 1960s. Link
❌ An unexplained glitch at Fastly, a popular CDN provider to major internet services such as Twitch, Amazon, Spotify, Reddit, HBO Max, Quora, PayPal, Vimeo, the New York Times, BBC, Financial Times, UK government website, and many more, caused what many people perceived as an internet outage. The outage lasted for several hours as it without a doubt affected the operations of many organizations around the world as well as people’s lives as some communication services and hosting services that rely on Fastly were also affected. Fastly didn’t explain much but has since “fixed” the glitch. Link
📴 It should be obvious by now but it is worth repeating: technology is not the answer to all problems. It’s worth repeating because there just appears to be a continued desire to throw in technology to address what are often complex, systemic problems or misdiagnosed problems. People, especially technologists and those who tend to believe the digital tech hype a little too much, continue to behave as if technology is a magical fix. The truth is, there are many things needed in the world right now, but another piece of ill-conceived technology is probably not one of them. Link
📱 For brands, advertising remains the number one way to reach their customers. But doing so is increasingly challenging, especially when everyone is vying for consumers’ attention. Even traditional advertising giants like Google and Facebook are showing their flaws when it comes to engagement and click-through rates. With Africa being arguably a mobile-first continent, brands leverage the power of mobile to better engage with their audiences by leveraging telcos to place brands in the hands of consumers, i.e. they should utilize telco-driven mobile advertising. It also leverages the scale and reach of global telcos to launch targeted mobile messaging advertising campaigns. Link
😔 Remember Jack Ma? The Chinese tech billionaire and founder of Alibaba and AliPay? The one who toured some countries across Africa and set up some entrepreneurship and startup programmes and competitions? Yes, him. Now, when last did you see him mentioned in the media? Probably fewer times in the last two years than you would have the years preceding that. This is because the Chinese government has decided that they don’t like his criticism of their regulations, and as such, Ma’s assets have been stripped, shorn, and degraded and “Beijing” is now doling out some of the most lucrative slices of Ma’s business to new “partners” of its choosing. Link
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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