Amazon Cloud Disruption Hits Some Startups

Disruption to Inc servers that host Internet services took down a raft of social networking websites including Foursquare and Quora early on Thursday, underscoring concerns about reliability as more companies turn to the "cloud."

Amazon's "Elastic Compute Cloud," part of the online retail company's cloud-computing service that hosts websites for startups, experienced latency problems and other errors, according to Amazon's status page.

The company said it was dealing with capacity issues amid a flood of queries and information.

Amazon is "now seeing significantly reduced failures and latency and ... continuing to recover. We have also brought additional capacity online in the affected availability zone," it said in the latest update on its status page.

Foursquare, one of the best-known location-based social services from which users can "check in" or broadcast their locations to friends, said it was experiencing technical difficulties as a result of Amazon's service.

"Our usually amazing data center hosts, Amazon EC2, are having a few hiccups this morning, which affected us and a bunch of other services that use them," read a message on the homepage of Foursquare's website on Thursday. The message said "everything looking to be getting back to normal now."

Quora's homepage said the site was down but should be back up shortly.

Cloud computing, or the hosting of sites and services on the Internet, is viewed as the future of computing for consumers and corporations in an increasingly mobile, connected world.

Though experts have warned of security, privacy and reliability issues, corporations -- especially cash-starved Internet startups -- are increasingly seeking to outsource such functions as web-hosting to third-party servers to hold costs down.

Others rely on the cloud to host services -- such as storage of multimedia content -- across a plethora of wireless Internet devices, like smartphones and tablets.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment beyond the messages on its status page.

Shares in Amazon were holding steady, up 0.6 percent at $184.89 in afternoon trade.