It's a busy time for shippers, making it quite possibly the worst time of the year to have an outage, but that's what happened to FedEx for several hours on Nov. 24.
The Fedex.com site was unavailable for several hours to some users in the United States, but it's unclear what exactly happened.
FedEx did not respond to a request for detailed comment on specifics related to the site outage. A FedEx social media customer service spokesperson did respond to eWEEK, noting only that she did not have any information regarding the Fedex.com site being down.
The official @FedEx Twitter account posted a message at 4:56 p.m. ET on Nov. 24, first acknowledging that there was something wrong with its site.
Thirty-six minutes later, the @FedEx account reported that the issue was resolved, though no details were provided. "We've resolved the technical issue on Fedex.com," FedEx tweeted. "We regret any inconvenience."
Though the Twitter status stream implies a short period between the time the issue was first noticed and the resolution, the outage (or "technical issues" as FedEx refers to them) actually occurred over the course of multiple hours.
Popular site availability tracker Isitdownrightnow.com is full of comments from those who were trying to determine if Fedex.com was available on Nov. 24. Some comments indicated that the site was unavailable for most of the day, while others reported outages of approximately three hours.
Even after the @FedEx Twitter account reported the technical issue as being resolved, multiple Twitter users reported that they were still experiencing issues registering new deliveries and tracking packages.
There are any number of reasons why Fedex.com had site availability issues yesterday. As is the case with many modern Websites, Fedex.com is a highly scalable and distributed Website, which should be designed to handle large traffic volumes.
A cursory examination of the back-end infrastructure that powers Fedex.com reveals that the servers run on Linux and the site makes use of the Akamai Content Delivery Network (CDN). Akamai's network is intended to help provide a high degree of availability no matter where a user might be located. Akamai also provides distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack protection for its customers.
Some FedEx users on Twitter complained that the Nov. 24 outage was not an isolated event. One customer commented that it was the third time in less than two weeks that Fedex.com was down.
This is the busiest time of year for FedEx, with the shipping company forecasting that it will transport 317 million shipments between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, for a 12.4 percent year-over-year increase in volume.
eWEEK will continue to monitor the FedEx site availability situation and will update this story as more facts and details emerge.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.