02 March 2011

Glitch vs. Glitch: Microsoft Live vs. Google Gmail

Since no one has figured out how to write error-free software, cloud glitches, sooner or later, are likely to affect more and more people. As Woody Leonhard notes, it's instructive to see how cloud providers react. Leonhard suggests a comparison between the recent Gmail incident and Microsoft's 30 December 2010 outage at Hotmail. In the latter case, Leonhard's research suggests that Microsoft didn't provide an official response until four days after the seemingly not dissimilar scripting problem that caused the Hotmail outage. Not that Google has given much of an explanation so far, either.

As anyone whose flight has been cancelled will attest, providing timely information eases the pain a little -- even if it's only to say "We don't have a new departure time yet, but here's what we know so far . . ." IT must make a similar commitment, or be content with user-unfriendly, unsympathetic software and services that take a cue from indifference writ large. The challenges are both technical and organizational. Support staff need to be empowered to escalate and route problems to the appropriate teams, since existing problem resolution workflow is likely to be unsuitable for major outages. 

Support services must scale along with cloud migration, and the indications so far are unimpressive.

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