Saturday, August 18, 2007

Skype network outage

How about your own telephone service provider having a network outage lasting for ~30 hours?
Thank God Skype isn't providing access to 112 / 911 -services, in that case someone could actually use Skype as a primary or even only voice calling service. Then these users would have been for one day without access to a lifeline facility..

Techie-wise an interesting outage. I really hope Skype could talk, perhaps even in a very detailed way, what went wrong. Maintaining a P2P beast that has presently 6, in peaks 9 million users and has 200+ million registered accounts must be quite an interesting job. When a machine of that size decides to go down, booting it back up is..not a job I'd like to endure myself. :)

Now as there is no official word what went wrong - let's speculate. And it is now really pure speculation, because Skype hasn't revealed too much of its inner workings. I guess that they were doing some maintenance, swapping some root nodes or something. And that update message was never used before - interpreted wrongly in the client base and a cascade effect was ready.

Interesting bit is that Skype points to the "login problem". So could it be that information about the nodes carrying login capability was mangled somehow?

Last, there has been a lot of words from various columnists regarding "Skype loosing their credibility". Heck, this was their first major outage as far as I remember. This year's reliability figures are lost, but in the long run and also considering their really innovative technology side - this means nothing.

Skype has been a real saver for me. I've talked numerous hours with superb quality with my family from business trips around the globe. Skype has always worked, even from a meeting room where the network allowed only HTTP through a proxy! I have a SIP account from a local provider here and I find very rare occasions where it works perfectly.

Only improvement I'd like to see is lowering charges to mobile number destinations in Europe. 16+ eurocents / minute is..a bit on the expensive side.

I hope this event could help Skype to open a bit in their PR side. The columnists could have been quieter if Skype would have been proactive in their PR.

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