Wikipedia back after brief outage


Wikipedia was hit with a brief outage due to technical problems with a data center
August 6, 2012

The crowd-sourced encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is back up and running Monday after a brief outage took parts of the site offline earlier Monday.

According to a tweet from the site’s parent group, the Wikimedia Foundation, the outage was due to a fiber optic cable being cut near its Florida data center.

Wikimedia Foundation spokesman Jay Walsh said that the organization is looking into the outage but that there is “no reason to believe that it was intentional.”

Wikipedia is just the latest in a string of services that have been hit with high-profile outages in recent weeks. Just last month, Twitter and Google Talk experienced outages on the same day.

Twitter said that the problem lay with two data centers failing at the same time.

“Data centers are designed to be redundant: when one system fails (as everything does at one time or another), a parallel system takes over,” Mazen Rawashdeh, Twitter’s vice president of engineering, wrote on July 26. “What was noteworthy about today’s outage was the coincidental failure of two parallel systems at nearly the same time.”

Outages are gaining more scrutiny as users rely more and more on information stored in off-site servers — or on services that rely on similar servers.

That came into sharp focus this summer when an unexpected rainstorm took down an Amazon Web Services data center and, subsequently, access to services such as Instagram, Pinterest and Netflix.

The Washington Post reported in June that the outage highlighted some concerns U.S. lawmakers have had about moving federal information to the cloud.

“Cloud computing has an enormous upside when it comes to storing and accessing information,” Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) told The Post. “But have we really thought through the downside posed by cyber- terrorists, hackers and even naturally occurring threats such as thunderstorms? I’m not so sure.”

Stability aside, some people — including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak — have other concerns about moving to the cloud.

According to a report from the AFP, Wozniak told those attending a show of “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” that he worries about the impact that cloud computing will have on ownership.

“I really worry about everything going to the cloud,” Wozniak said. “I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.”

More technology news from The Post:

Refugee from Facebook questions the social media life

iPad 2 still makes up 60 percent of iPad web traffic in the U.S., report says

Apple v. Samsung: What to expect in federal court

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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