The Age Of Good Enough Technologies: Redundancy Getting Distributed To The Edge

from the five-9's-is-so-20th-century dept

Following the Skype outage last week and the big SF data center outage last month, Business Week is exploring the fact that today's technology is often at the "good enough" level, rather than being designed to withstand a nuclear attack. We've certainly had previous examples of this as well. What may be more interesting, however, is that people are basically creating their own redundancies, rather than leaving it up to the service providers. In other words, redundancy is getting decentralized. Rather than making sure that a service provider can keep mission critical services up at all times, we're all learning to create our own personal backup plans. In the article, it discusses how Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim basically "backed up" his Skype phone account with his mobile phone. This is true in other areas as well. I have a DSL connection at home, but if it goes down (all too often, unfortunately) I have both an EV-DO account and a (in those really desperate times) dialup account. My email is available at a web-based service... but also downloaded to a local client. In other words, knowing that many of these services are really only "good enough" I (and many others) have simply started creating out own backup system for mission critical services. Of course, many of these redundancies offer additional features and benefits, but it's certainly distributed the "general uptime" responsibility out to the end-users rather than the central service providers.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Unknown Agent, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 7:23am

    One thing working for Geek Squad has taught me is that people need to be more aware of personal redundancy options. All too often people lose their data due to a failing hard drive or corrupted operating system.

    I'm glad that the overall distribution of backup options has been pushed towards the end user because personally I prefer to handle my own data.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Michael Schmitt, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 7:38am

    Costs of redundancy

    Redundancy can be a bit costly, but when it comes to a copy of my data, a couple of hundred dollars to have a backup of my digital life really isn't too expensive. HOWEVER, having a backup to my connection to the internet would be a bit, well, obsessive and expensive for me as I only casually use the internet and don't depend on it as my primary communications medium or for my line of work. Spending ~$50/month on DSL and ~$50/month for the EV-DO option is overboard for me!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Aug 28th, 2007 @ 7:43am

    $ for redundancy

    In any operation you will have to pay more for redundancy. A service provider does just that, provides adequate service for a fee. If you wanted three feeds you would have to pay a lot more for that service. You pay an excess charge for redundancy. Mike did for his internet connection. In town here, a data center is looking for some power redundancy, they currently only have battery backup. It turns out that they are actually near a switching point on our grid so they could be switched between two different feeders from two different substations. The utility is glad to provide the option to them but they will have to pay for the installation and extra upkeep on any equipment needed beyond a standard service. They want to also have their own generation. It will take a lot of work on the utilities part to make sure all these devices coordinate properly so either customer or utility don't lose expensive equipment or someone dies as a result of improper engineering. It all costs more money. Typically, most people can go without for a few minutes. Shoot, I couldn't get Techdirt to load properly yesterday. A couple minutes later it was fine.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    TheDock22, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 8:02am

    Re:

    I used to work for Best Buy. The company was great, but their policies were horrible. Rather than fix a software problem their solution is alway "We need to restore your operating system!" It would save so much time and money if they just figured out what the problem was and fixed it.

    I do agree with personal backups though. External hard drives are great for this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    thoughful, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 8:19am

    Please use a spell checker! Typos - in Articles.

    I admit it, I am a lousy typist! And I make typos!
    I hate when big commercial sites have typos in their headlines. Can't they use a spell checker?
    I laugh when newspapers have typos in their headlines. Surely, they have heard of the "Computer" and the "Internet" (Everyone now knows the Internet is "a series of tubes!").
    Perhaps they might use the modern technology - the spell-checker, before they go out of business as the people
    who can read get annoyed that newspaper editors can't!


    PS. Mike, I love Techdirt and many of your articles are spot on! You rarely have typos! You accurately and tritely describe many crazy situations in the world.

    Who knows - maybe Ron Paul will get elected -
    he seems honest and consistant! The US will improve when the gov corruption is reduced.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Duane M. Navarre, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 10:23am

    Re: Costs of redundancy

    Co-op your ISP connections, make a deal with
    a neighbor to get cable, and the other get
    DSL or EV-DO or Wifi, and then setup a MAC
    address list limited encrypted WiFi link
    between the two of you.

    You both pay the same as you do now, but
    can use the other as backup.

    You just need someone within line of sight
    of a decent grid or yagi antenna.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    JEEZUS, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 10:45am

    Re:

    You actually admit that you work for Geek Squad?!?!? I here by strike you down with Lightening!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Costs of redundancy

    Co-op your ISP connections...
    Too bad that's usually illegal. Do you have any legal suggestions?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re:

    It would save so much time and money if they just figured out what the problem was and fixed it.
    Maybe for the customer but not for Best Buy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    yoyowhyyoutrippin?, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Costs of redundancy

    How is it illegal if 2 consenting neighbors allow wireless connections to their own router?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Costs of redundancy

    In most cases the contract with the residential ISP prohibits sharing the service. You do not have the right to use the service beyond the terms of service and so such usage would probably fall within the felony "theft of service" laws of most states. If 2 or more persons are involved then felony conspiracy crime charges could probably also be brought. And that is how it is illegal in most cases.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 5:59pm

    -It would save so much time and money if they just figured out what the problem was and fixed it.
    -Maybe for the customer but not for Best Buy.

    Most customers don't come in because they CAN'T fix it/back it up/whatever, they come in and pay for the convienience of having someone else do it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 6:53pm

    "just good enough"

    Before the computer age, this level of quality would put a company out of business the minute a decent competitor showed up.

    Early on, Netscape released all its browsers as "beta", until the next version came out - as beta. They openly admitted to the "good enough" philosophy. We all bought in.

    Everyone knows that MS never gets a release right until about SP2. We all bought in, and stay in.

    Now even "do no evil" Google releases their products as beta. They are usually free, but the "it's beta, use it at your own risk" disclaimer covers them.

    I'm sorry, but it's all just an excuse to take your money for crap. Since the market goes along with it, you can be sure someone will be glad to do business on that basis.

    No software I ever produced went out as beta or in "just good enough" condition. Beta is for testing - period.

    Now that I work in IT for a manufacturing company, I'm proud that our products are buit to a high level of quality. It even helps us in the marketplace.

    I bet the ISPs mentioned in the article guaranteed or at least advertised 99.999% uptime.

    I wish we would start demanding that we receive what we pay for. It is not too much to ask.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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