Wednesday, 24 October 2018 10:36

Oracle migration caused Amazon Prime Day outage: report Featured

Oracle migration caused Amazon Prime Day outage: report Pixabay

Global retail giant Amazon experienced problems with its retail website on its Prime Day, the company's made-up holiday in July meant to boost sales, because of problems in migrating from Oracle's database to its own technology.

A report from CNBC, which obtained an internal Amazon report, said the incident showed that Oracle's software was superior to what Amazon had deployed in some respects.

It said the website glitches experienced on Prime Day came at a time when the company was also trying to hose down an issue at one of its bigger warehouses in Ohio. Together, these led to thousands of deliveries being delayed.

The report obtained by CNBC, running to 25 pages, showed that Amazon's technical staff struggled to find out the root cause of the issues on Prime Day.

Last year, an error by a member of its technical staff caused Amazon Web Services to go down. The company said at the time that the S3 team was attempting to debug an issue that caused a slowdown in its billing system when one of its technical staff ran a command that was intended to remove a few servers from one of the subsystems used by the S3 billing process.

The worker entered one wrong input for the command and ended up removing a much larger number of servers than intended, some of which supported two other S3 subsystems.

CNBC said Amazon also failed to come up with a contingency plan in the event of any error in its replacement database, which is the open-source PostgreSQL software, sold by a company known as Aurora.

One of the questions in the Amazon technical report obtained by CNBC asked the engineers why the database system had not failed during the previous Prime Day when it was running on Oracle. They said that Oracle and Aurora PostgreSQL handled savepoints differently.

An Amazon spokesperson attempted to play down the issue and even claimed there was no outage, even though the report that CNBC obtained said that the "degradation resulted in lags and complete outages".

CNBC said 13 warehouses had moved from Oracle to PostgreSQL before Prime Day. It said the Amazon report cited delayed deliveries for 15,000 packages and about US$90,000 in wasted labour costs.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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