lunes, octubre 12, 2009

Cloud Computing bajo fuego (¿o un sistema de responsabilidad?)

Publicado el 11 de octubre en New York Times: "algunos" usuarios de T-Mobile y Danger, subsidiarias de Microsoft, perderían la información personal en sus cuentas (agenda, fotos, listas de tareas):
The cellphone provider T-Mobile and Danger, a subsidiary of Microsoft and one of T-Mobile’s partners, said over the weekend that a technical glitch in their computer systems would probably result in some customers losing their personal information like contact names, phone numbers and digital photos.
T-Mobile and Danger operate what has become known as a cloud computing service to store important information for their customers. In theory, such a service should make life easier on people by leaving the management of complex computing systems to the pros and having data held in sophisticated computing centers. But when problems crop up, embarrassment ensues.

[...] Employees at the companies have worked over the weekend to try and fix these problems, but, as of Sunday afternoon, there were still some data and software application service flaws.

“Our teams continue to work around the clock in hopes of discovering some way to recover this information,” T-Mobile said in a statement on its Web site. “However, the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low.”

Lo que inicialmente alerta sobre la confiabilidad de la computación "en la nube", adquiere un color más personalizado en otros comentarios: En el curso de una actualización de hardware, no se habrían hecho respaldos adecuados (la hipótesis es algo más cruda: no se habrían hecho, llanamente):

By now the word is out on the street. Microsoft/Danger has most likely lost everyone’s personal info including contacts, notes, calendar entries, to-dos, etc. The question remains: How did this happen? Microsoft is a big software company, they’re well versed in the enterprise world and should have systems in place that allow them to weather any sort of issue like this. Of course everyone (T-Mobile, Microsoft/Danger) hasn’t come out with any details on the cause of the failure, but we’ve got some theories and rumors floating around.

Currently the rumor with the most weight is as follows:
Microsoft was upgrading their SAN (Storage Area Network aka the thing that stores all your data) and had hired Hitachi to come in and do it for them. Typically in an upgrade like this, you are expected to make backups of your SAN before the upgrade happens. Microsoft failed to make these backups for some reason. We’re not sure if it was because of the amount of data that would be required, if they didn’t have time to do it, or if they simply forgot. Regardless of why, Microsoft should know better. So Hitachi worked on upgrading the SAN and something went wrong, resulting in it’s destruction. Currently the plan is to try to get the devices that still have personal data on them to sync back to the servers and at least keep the data that users have on their device saved.

We’ve heard this from what appears to be several sources and it seems to hold weight. Needless to say it all boils down to one thing: Microsoft did not have a working backup.

How this happens in today’s day and age is beyond belief. Hundreds of thousands of customers that generate millions of dollars in revenue means you back their stuff up, in triplicate. You test these backups regularly, and you move a copy off site that doesn’t get touched except in case of an emergency (i.e. right now). The head of the mobile division (and person in charge of what’s left of Danger) is Roz Ho, who has been at Microsoft for 18 years. You would think she’d know something about how to run a business.

What does this mean for the future of the Sidekick? Unless Microsoft pulls a miracle out of thin air the Sidekick is dead. People are already jumping ship to other phones with this news, and the exposure of how inept Microsoft is when it comes to the mobile world is huge. If Microsoft can’t continue to run Danger, a company that was ground-breaking and solidly built, how can we expect anything from the Windows Mobile department?

(Comentado en, un sitio dedicado a Sidekick).
Otras referencias: Om Malik, y Eric Zeman, en Information Week.
Zeman saca la conclusión genérica: usa la nube, y haz tus backups:
T-Mobile isn't alone in the service they provide. Other mobile companies, such as Google, Apple, Palm, and Microsoft, have cloud-based data management systems that users can take advantage of. I think the bottom line here is pretty clear. Cloud storage can certainly provide for a back-up that's mostly trustworthy, but making sure you back-up data locally can prevent real disasters.

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