Friday, May 15, 2009

Cloudy Web 2.0: So Much for the 5th Utility

A real utility, like water, gas and POTS, implies that it's always there, with only very rare and explainable exceptions. Which reminds me, did they ever figure out who hacked (as in "chopped") the major phone cables in Santa Clara County, last month?

Yesterday, we had Google users suffering another outage with Gmail service, followed later by some "unscheduled downtime" at Twitter. Or, as I tweeted it:

@DrQz: RT @twitterapi [unscheduled downtime: (expand)] Translation: Our whale is flailing.

@DrQz: The angular momentum of the fickle-finger-of-fate is alarmingly high today in Web 2.0 world. First Gmail, now Twitter, next....?

Neither Google or Twitter are doing much explaining. All too reminiscent of my previous posts:What the Twitter support message actually said was:
@twitterapi We're experiencing unscheduled downtime: ^DW
But do they not realize that I can't know this if they're down, because I can't connect (which would explain why my browser just kept timing out). In the meantime, neither I nor any other Twitter user knows what is going on and there is nowhere else I can find out the real status. There's little or no robustness or redundancy in the Web. Isn't it just slightly ironic that this is precisely why the Internet was developed by DARPA? Has anyone thought about creating an internet "Big Board" (or Boards, for redundancy) which shows the status/performance of the major web sites? (See updates below) Thankfully, neither of the above incidents involved actual data losses (that we know of), but this one did---remember JournalSpace.gone? As posted on Slashdot:
Hacker Destroys Along With Its Backups Posted by timothy on Friday May 15, @01:17AM "Flight Simulator community website Avsim has experienced a total data loss after both of their online servers were hacked. The site's founder, Tom Allensworth, explained why 13 years of community developed terrains, skins, and mods will not be restored from backups: 'Some have asked whether or not we had back ups. Yes, we dutifully backed up our servers every day. Unfortunately, we backed up the servers between our two servers. The hacker took out both servers, destroying our ability to use one or the other back up to remedy the situation.'"
Ever heard of Disaster Recovery? Remote colocation? What if your building (basement) caught fire? OK, maybe such well-known IT practices are not the first thing you think about when you're getting your site established, but somewhere between day 1 and year 13, with data that both you and your users now wish they had ... Hellooo!? Updates
  • Sunday, May 17, 2009: Larry Magid contemplates Google as a single point of failure for Web 2.0.

  • Monday, May 18, 2009: Rob Enderle thinks that private clouds will dominate public clouds because of these management and reliability issues.

  • Thu, June 4, 2009: Herdict is a kind of internet Big Board. Today it is showing as most blocked from China access for the Tiananmen 20th anniversary. (I probably just joined Twitter)

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