Alexa, the search portal operated by Amazon.com, is experiencing significant performance problems today, with outages and delays seen from all of our monitoring points. In addition to basic search, Alexa provides data on the popularity of web sites visited by users of its toolbar (Note: Netcraft provides a similar service).
The performance issues for Alexa come as Amazon is pursuing an aggressive expansion into the utility hosting business, leasing its infrastructure to third-parties to provide scalable storage and hosting. Amazon's hosting initiative received considerable media coverage tied to CEO Jeff Bezos' presentation at last week's Web 2.0 conference.
A dynamically updating chart of the performance of Alexa.com is available. Netcraft offers a web site performance monitoring service that provides detailed uptime charts, along with e-mail alerts when an outage occurs.
Amazon's infrastructure services, which include Simple Storage Service (S3) and Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), have been used by several online backup startups, and have gained raves from several early users. These include the photo storage site SmugMug, which says it has saved $500,000 by using Amazon for storage, and the virtual world Second Life, which used S3 to deliver 900 gigabytes of software downloads for less than $200.
But the S3 service has experienced growth-related performance problems, and Alexa's trouble this morning provide a reminder that even Amazon's mature services are not immune to downtime.