How the Fastly outage reminds us to have strong business continuity plans

On the 8th June 2021, cloud-computing company Fastly, experienced an outage that took down several of their customers websites for about an hour. Some of the websites affected included major ecommerce sites such as Amazon and Ebay, popular streaming platform Twitch, social media websites Pinterest and Reddit and other sites such as The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Telegraph, Paypal and

Needless to say, it was a major outage that caused frustration and panic for the consumer and companies involved.

What happened?

According to Fastly, a customer configuration changed trigged a software bug that caused 85% of their network to return errors. People who tried to access websites hit by this bug recieved 503 errors. The cloud-computing company said it identified the issues in one minute and restored 95% of it’s network in 49 minutes. However, some customers still experienced outages. In addition, only a few Fastly customers were able to switch over to a backup system in time to recover from the outage.

Nick Rockwell, Senior Vice President of engineering and infrastructure, said “We are conducting a complete post mortem of the processes and practices we followed during this incident. We’ll figure out why we didn’t detect the bug during our software quality assurance and testing processes.”

What is a 503 error?

A 503 error usually appears on a website when the server can’t handle the request. 503 errors are usually temporary. Usually 503 errors appear when a site is down for maintenance or in some cases, when the site experiences too much traffic. In this case it appeared due to an unscheduled error.

How does a business continuity plan (BCP) keep your organisation afloat in case of a similar outage?

Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on your third-party providers to be immune to issues like these, which it’s why it’s important to consider your backup plan in the event of similar disasters.

Having a proactive business continuity plan minimises downtime in the event that the provider takes a while to fix the issue. As well as that, the benefits of having a BCP include minimising the financial risk and reputational damage associated with downtime and strengthening your organisation’s position against large scale attacks in the future.

It can also ensure that communication methods such as network servers continue to operate during a crisis – something that organisations affected by this outage would have benefited from.

Speak to us about your business continuity options

How much would it cost if your business’ website went down? The loss can be damaging in more ways than one which is why we suggest you speak to our experts on building a strong plan in the event similar disasters happen. Being able to have that peace of mind can make all the difference, so get in touch with our experts today.