Demand for iOS 5 and iCloud was so high, Apple almost broke the Internet [Updated]

Demand for iOS 5 and iCloud was so high, Apple almost broke the Internet [Updated]

Owners of an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV were yesterday able to update their devices to Apple’s new iOS 5 software, providing them with a number of new features and access to the company’s new cloud service iCloud. Update below.

Apple experienced problems of its own, with many users unable to update their devices because its servers were unable to cope with requests to activate their installs, pulling an “internal error occurred (3200)” message each time they attempted to install the update.

It appears that whilst Apple struggled to cope with demand, ISPs were facing issues trying to keep traffic flowing through their networks, as Apple device owners attempted to download at least 600 megabyte updates.

One ISP, AAISP, was “caught unawares” and yesterday evening saw “silly high usage since around 18:40 [BST]” leading them to think that “something [was] clearly ‘up’ and there [was] some ‘internet event’ happening”.

As Cult of Mac notes, that “internet event” was the release of iOS 5, Mac OS X 10.7.2 and a number of new applications.

Throughout the evening, AAISP engineers posted on the company’s Incident and Status Page, noting just what was happening to its network as subscribers fired up their iTunes clients and updated their iOS devices:

At 8.53pm, they wrote:

This is worse than the world cup traffic!

Two minutes later:

Only clue is new Apple IOS5 stuff – if that is the cause I am impressed.

At 8:57pm:

Usage has just reached unprecidented levels – we have not seen anothing like this…

The team then saw that issues were being reported on other UK ISPs, forcing them to increase their core link to maximum output to cope with demand. The company was forced get its FireBrick team working hard to scale its CPU output and loads to cope with “unprecidented levels of usage”, something that could have failed users should it not have been adequately managed.

They also exclaimed that they knew that there was a Windows Update and Apple’s iOS 5 release, but didn’t believe that could have been just those updates.

However at 8:45am this morning, AAISP engineers confirmed that suspicion:

We are guessing this was IOS5 release.

TNW contributor Steve Kennedy noticed the spike at a London broadband exchange, sharing a graph of the traffic boost at the time:

The traffic at the LONAP (LONAP is a London Neutral Internet Exchange Point where Internet and content providers exchange traffic) increased from a normal peak of around 18Gb/s to around 28Gb/s.

This was just in the UK but will have almost certainly been mirrored across the world.

Did Apple break the Internet? Probably not. It just gave some ISP engineers a bit of a scare.

Update: Andy Davidson, the Director of LONAP, gave us this statement about the traffic:

The traffic was around twice what we would see on a typical Wednesday evening.  There was as much traffic as we would see for a major sporting event (such as England playing in the World or European cups).  Such volumes have never been seen before for a software upgrade.

Don’t miss our Complete Guide to iOS 5.

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