Amazon didn’t have enough servers to handle the demand on Prime Day, prompting it to run a front page that was scaled back. CNBC, citing internal documents it obtained, reported that it was forced to temporarily shutdown international access to the site. The internal documents also suggest Amazon's auto-scaling feature didn’t work properly ahead of the crash, given that Amazon was forced to manually add servers.
“Currently out of capacity for scaling. Looking at scavenging hardware,” said one of the updates about one hour into Prime Day.
The internal memo shows a breakdown in Sable, a company system that provides computation and storage services to the retail and digital units, which caused glitches to services such as Prime. Alexa, Prime Now and Twitch also reported issues, as did warehouse workers, who said they couldn’t scan and pack orders for a period of time.
Matthew Caesar, co-founder of cybersecurity firm Veriflow and a computer science professor at the University of Illinois, said to CNBC, “More people came in than Amazon could handle. And Amazon couldn’t use all the resources they had available because there was a bug, or some other issue, with their software."
According to the report, Amazon’s auto-scaling feature, which adjusts server capacity based on demand, appeared to stop working.
“If their auto-scaling was working, things would have scaled automatically and they wouldn't have had this level of outage,” Caesar said. “There was probably an implementation or configuration error in their automatic scaling systems.”
Amazon opted not to shut the site down, but added servers manually to improve the performance of the website, the report noted.
In a press release Wednesday (July 18) the eCommerce giant said sales for this year’s Prime Day surpassed Cyber Monday, Black Friday and the Prime Day 2017 in terms of sales, making it the biggest shopping event in Amazon’s history. Amazon said that, during the 36-hour sales event, Prime members around the globe purchased more than 100 million products, with bestsellers including the Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote and Echo Dot.