Alibaba Cloud suffers second service outage in a month

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Alibaba’s cloud service experienced a disruption that lasted for almost two hours on Monday, affecting customers in mainland China, Hong Kong, and the United States. This is the second outage that the company has experienced within a month. The impact was mainly felt by several of Alibaba Cloud’s database management products, including PostgreSQL, Redis, and MySQL editions. Eight regions were affected, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Virginia in the U.S.


According to a statement posted on Alibaba Cloud’s website on Tuesday, the issue was detected at 09:16 Beijing time (0116 GMT) on November 27, 2023. The company’s monitoring system detected abnormalities in the console and OpenAPI access for database products. The issue was resolved at 10:58 on the same day.


Alibaba is China’s largest cloud vendor, with a market share of 29.9% for the first half of 2023, followed by Huawei with 13.2% and China Telecom with 12.2%, according to data from industry research group IDC.


This is the second disruption that Alibaba’s customers have experienced in a month. The first one occurred on November 12 and lasted over three hours, impacting a broader range of products and affecting more parts of the world. Dozens of products were impacted during that disruption, including cloud-based database management systems and cloud communication systems. The regions impacted ranged from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East to North America. Many of Alibaba’s flagship application services briefly crashed during the November 12 disruption, including the shopping app Taobao and work collaboration tool service app DingTalk.


While Alibaba has resolved the two outages, tech industry experts have raised questions about the reliability of its cloud services. “Such a high frequency of glitches is not reasonable,” tech expert Feng Ruohang wrote in a WeChat blog post on Monday that garnered over 30,000 views. “This is hugely damaging to Alibaba Cloud’s brand image as a reliable cloud service provider.”


Alibaba recently announced that it was abandoning its original plans to spin off its cloud business due to uncertainties created by U.S. export controls on chips used in artificial intelligence applications. The e-commerce giant had initially announced plans to list the unit as part of a broad restructuring, and analysts had estimated then that the cloud division could be worth $41-$60 billion.

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