Live takes a Dive


Earlier today, bCentral / MSN / Live and whatever Microsoft’s Googlekiller is called today, decided to take a break. It woke up a little bit later, dazed and confused, and asked if Yahoo was there yet. Alas, no. 🙂 Ok, all joke aside, another major network went down. Joining Blackberry which seems to do it every other month, Twitter which does it every few days and Amazon’s S3 which went down for the first time ever.

The media freaked out. Users started burning their computers, throwing them at children that are passing by, killing kittens.. and these are IT people? Really? Reaaaaaly? Reaaaaaaaaaaaaaly? I’d love to live in the IT neverland in which people are surprised when a server (or network or networks) go down. Meanwhile in reality, it took Dell 3 days to fix a problem on a DOA (dead on arrival) system for something that was bought with a 4 hour support contract.

What are we learning here? Or rather, what should we be learning:

  1. When the service goes down, who is available to help?
  2. When the service goes down, how long does it take for the support/info request to be acknowledged?
  3. When the service goes down, do you know exactly where to go to confirm the issue?
  4. When the service goes down, do you get an ETA of the repair?
  5. When the service goes down, do you get a refund?
  6. When the service goes down, does the company offer a plausible excuse for the outage or does it just shrug its shoulders?
  7. When the service goes down, are you alerted about its recovery when it comes back up?

If you can’t easily answer those questions, you do not have a business solution. You have a best effort solution.

What’s the difference between a business solution and best effort? Well, your business is. Take a look at Sarah Perez’s account when she got locked out of her Gmail and realized there was 0 recourse for her. Woops.

3 Responses to Live takes a Dive

  1. Chris Knight says:

    Nice post Vlad. A pity we don’t live in this Utopia. Unfortunately most service providers can’t provide answers to all of these questions. For example, Australia’s largest telco – by your definition – is a best effort solution provider, even for their SLA’d services.

    There has to be something about the 4 hour response times like you mention above. They almost always take 3 days to be completed…

  2. Bill Huber says:

    Yesterday I started using Live for my nonprofit work. I have some files I want to share between computers and I have some people I would like to share files with so that we can prepare grant applications. So here is my answer to your questions.

    I view this problem the same way I view Internet issues with DNS, routing problems, unresponsive email servers, unresponsive web sites, etc. I will work around the problem until it is fixed. Live is not a critical service for me. It is a convenient service that satisfies many non-critical business needs. I am probably making a huge mistake on so many different levels if I am keeping anything out on Live that gets me thinking about service level agreements and security policies.

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