Microsoft, Cloud failure and T-Mobile


T-MobileSociety puts a premium on getting access to ‘news’ as quickly as possible. The person who breaks the story first gets the rewards. Speed to market trumps quality delivered to market every time. It’s a shame really.

Take the T-Mobile debacle as an example. The story kicked off two weeks ago, but hit fever pitch last Saturday with news from TechCrunch of T-Mobile losing all customer data and thus:

This goes beyond FAIL, face-palm, or any of the other internet memes we’ve come to associate with incompetence. The fact that T-Mobile and/or Microsoft Danger don’t have a redundant backup is simply inexcusable, especially given the fact that the Sidekick is totally reliant on the cloud because it doesn’t store its data locally.

and the Engadget pronouncement of it:

…shaping up to be one of the biggest disasters in the history of cloud computing…

Mashable follows with unchecked agreement:

The story is a jarring one for those storing increasing amounts of data in the “cloud”: as we become more reliant on servers to house our data, such losses can be catastrophic.

The event descends into a critique of Microsoft’s failure to make backups, and the impending death of the Sidekick:

Unless Microsoft pulls a miracle out of thin air the Sidekick is dead.

Ars Technica keep the momentum going:

This outage and subsequent data loss is just the latest, and probably the most dramatic, black eye yet for "cloud computing,"…

And of course, then the lawyers start lining up:

Another suit, filed on behalf of Maureen Thompson "and all others similarly situated" seeks unspecified damages for Thompson and others who have lost data as a result of the recent Sidekick problems.

(Keep in mind these legal suits are being filed within 3 days of the initial report of data loss and long before final details of the extent of the loss were fully confirmed!)

By mid week reports had started to shift the blame away from ‘the cloud’, and away from Microsoft directly to their outsourced partner (Hitachi), and then to non-Microsoft technology, and even to sabotage (supposedly due to low morale in the T-Mobile team).

Finally, by the end of the week Microsoft reports that most of the data may well be recovered and the story cools down.

We are pleased to report that we have recovered most, if not all, customer data for those Sidekick customers whose data was affected by the recent outage. We plan to begin restoring users’ personal data as soon as possible, starting with personal contacts, after we have validated the data and our restoration plan. We will then continue to work around the clock to restore data to all affected users, including calendar, notes, tasks, photographs and high scores, as quickly as possible.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing of course, but you have to wonder how much time and energy was wasted preparing and consuming this extended, lack-of-information fuelled coverage.

In our age of ever increasing speed of access to information, what a pity we can’t improve the quality. The signal to noise ratio this last week has been way too low.


By Craig Bailey