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Networks Never Fail

A reminder to those thinking that networks never fail and automation can solve everything. Christina Ilvento, on behalf of the App Engine team:

The root cause of the outage was a combination of two factors during a scheduled network maintenance in one of our datacenters. As part of the scheduled maintenance, network capacity to and from this datacenter was reduced. This alone was expected, and was not a problem. However, this maintenance exposed a previously existing misconfiguration in the system that manages network bandwidth capacity.

Ordinarily, the bandwidth management system helps isolate and prioritize traffic. When capacity is reduced because of maintenance, network failure, or due to an excess of normal traffic, the bandwidth management system keeps things running smoothly by throttling back the rate of low priority traffic. However, as mentioned, the bandwidth management system had a latent misconfiguration which did not show up until capacity was reduced due to the scheduled maintenance. This misconfiguration under-reported the available network capacity to and from the datacenter, causing the network modeler to believe that there was less overall capacity than actually existed.

The configuration error in the bandwidth management system, when combined with an expected reduction in capacity due to the scheduled maintenance, led the system to conclude that there was insufficient bandwidth available for current traffic demand to and from this datacenter. (In reality, there was more than sufficient excess capacity, as otherwise the maintenance would not have been allowed to go forward.) Because of this combination of misconfiguration and scheduled maintenance, a number of services were automatically blocked from sending network traffic. […]

The outage occurred because two independent systems failed at the same time, which resulted in mistakes in our usual escalation procedures which significantly impacted the duration of the outage.

Original title and link: Networks Never Fail (NoSQL database©myNoSQL)