Amazon's cloud computing services unit Amazon Web Services suffered technical issues late Wednesday.
The outage brought down web-based tools and services. Companies relying on cloud-based software applications such as those operating web-connected security cameras and storage were unable to operate.
Most issues were limited to Amazon's eastern U.S. operations. Applications hosted on the company's servers began to fail after midmorning. This included Amazon's other business units that rely on its own cloud services such as The Washington Post and its Ring security camera service.
A few hours after the outage, Amazon issued a note to clients that it had identified the cause of the problem but it would likely take "a few hours" before it could be fixed.
According to Amazon Web Services' status page, the outage had been limited to its data centers located in Northern Virginia. The collection of data centers is one of the oldest still in service, installed by the company in 2006.
Apart from disrupting its own web services, the outage also took down several services offered by the company's clients. Users of on-demand video streaming service provider Roku were reportedly unable to activate their accounts and access services on its mobile app.
Target's logistics unit Shipt also reported problems with its web-based services. Photo storage website Flickr said on social media that its customers were unable to log in or create new accounts because of the outage.
Three news outlets reported having problems during the outage - The Tampa Bay Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Capital Gazette. The New York City Transit Authority said on social media that it had been unable to update its subway line alerts since the outage.
Amazon Web Services said that the problem was traced back to an issue with its Kinesis Data Streams application programming interface.
The company hasn't said if it fixed the problem.
Amazon's cloud unit is one of the largest providers of cloud-based services in the U.S. The unit has since become a major contributor to Amazon's overall business.
In its latest quarter, the cloud unit generated sales of around $11.6 billion - roughly 12% of Amazon's overall revenue. Profits generated by the business unit contributed about 57% to Amazon's total.