Repeated outages of popular services, including Roblox, Facebook and Amazon Web Services, is a warning to us all about the fragility of IT infrastructure as it exists today. Real-time applications need a better internet. See how Subspace can improve your app by trying Subspace GlobalTURN for free now
Estimated read time: 7 minutes
During the past year, more people around the world have been online than ever before. There have also been major outages, each drawing attention to the dependence on the aging internet.
In April, Microsoft suffered an outage
that took Xbox and its Office cloud services offline. Six months later, Facebook and its related apps
—Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp—all went dark. Both of those outages were related to the failure of a Domain Name Server (DNS), the core naming structure that forms the infrastructure for the web. Later that same month, while most of the tech world focused on Facebook’s announcement of its rebranding as Meta
, the popular online gaming platform Roblox, which hosts such games as Adopt Me! and Jailbreak, announced a “service disruption”
affecting 99% of its users. This disruption continued for 73 hours. In early December 2021, Amazon Web Services then went down
, bringing down not only shopping on Amazon, but also crippling Associated Press, Disney+ and Vice along with hundreds of smaller companies that use AWS for backend services.
Users say Amazon Web Services is suffering a major outage. The company provides cloud computing services to individuals, universities, governments and companies including The Associated Press.
The Associated Press on Twitter (@AP)
Everyone is Susceptible to IT Outages
These outages are not unique. Every company has (or should have) a response plan ready to be deployed in the event of an IT outage. They know that the plan is not there for “if” the outage occurs, but “when” the outage occurs.
[Roblox’s] days-long predicament serves as a reminder that beneath all the hype, the metaverse as it exists today is built on problem-laden infrastructure.
Mathew Olson, technology journalist and author of the Reality Check Newsletter
30-Year-Old Technology is Not the Answer
The increasing outages we have seen in 2021 should serve asRoblox is the canary in the coal mine, warning all of us that building the future of global communications on top of 30-year-old technology is not a workable solution. The world needs something better, built for how we use online applications today.
was not built for today’s real-time applications. The US Department of Defense conceived the internet to connect contractors and research stations scattered around the country, enabling them to share information. The priority for the network was reliability over speed. The result was the mesh of networks stitched together by routers using protocols with built-in retry logic. This network could survive natural and manufactured disasters—but it was slow.
A significant upgrade to the internet came in the 2000s with the introduction of the World Wide Web. The focus at that time was delivering masses of static data such as rich websites, high-resolution images, and streaming video. The push resulted in a massive increase in bandwidth delivered to homes, but the underlying impediments remain.
Modern Real-Time Applications Need a Better Network
The latest wave of web applications is interactive and real-time. Real-time applications such as video conferencing, remote desktop, and VoIP require a network with no latency. Even when the internet is working as designed, it may not perform well enough for real-time applications. A delay of two or three seconds is acceptable when a user is waiting for a web page to load, but that same delay feels like an eternity when your video chat has frozen. Because of the intrinsic internet design, a packet of data may travel thousands of miles out of its way and pass through many routers, firewalls, and other devices before reaching its destination. Each hop on the packet’s journey introduces additional latency, jitter, and packet loss. The milliseconds of delay accumulate and contribute to a poor user experience.
These challenges occur when the internet is operating as designed. When you add in the certainty of failed hardware, a power outage, or a fiber cut, you go from performance problems to a complete outage. For many companies, an outage can cost millions of dollars per hour and, for all companies, there is a loss of user confidence. For example, during the Roblox outage, the company’s competitor, Rec Room
, saw massive downloads for the service’s apps and record highs for concurrent players.
An IT Outage Can Ruin Careers
An outage like this can ruin careers for IT managers, especially if the outage could have been avoided. This situation is even scarier when you consider that internet failures are out of the hands of most corporate IT managers. The solution is to move traffic to a new network designed for real-time applications. That network is Subspace
Subspace is the Better Network
In addition to resolving most of the public internet’s performance issues, Subspace can prevent or mitigate many network outages. Subspace uses a proprietary, AI-driven weather map of the internet
. Internet conditions are updated multiple times per second. Subspace uses this data to find the fastest path for an application’s data. It is like Waze for the internet. An application on Subspace enjoys minimal latency, jitter, and packet loss in normal times and routes around disruptions such as malfunctioning routers and cut lines just like Waze would route you around an accident or closed road.
DDoS Attacks Also Cause Outages
Subspace also protects servers from DDoS attacks, another common cause of service outages. Subspace has DDoS built into the network. It scans for malicious packets in real-time and removes them from the network. As the Subspace AI determines the path of the attack, scrubbing moves to the node closest to the attack source and blocks the attack from the network. The result is that application servers don’t need to deal with a deluge of spurious messages, and firewalls don’t get bogged down.
For IT managers responsible for creating or operating real-time applications, they just can’t afford to trust their business to 30-year-old technology. Subspace is a requirement, not an option.
now, before the next outage strikes.