Skype Outage Highlights How Skype Is A Bit More Centralized Than Expected

from the p2p-or-p2c2p dept

Lots of folks (including many of us here at Techdirt) have discovered that VoIP/IM service Skype is having a pretty massive outage right now, where most, if not all, Skype users simply cannot login. There are plenty of alternatives for people to use, but for those who are used to using Skype (or who use it as a phone replacement, as some do), it’s probably a bit of a nuisance. Still, this has to raise some questions. Part of the value of P2P networks was supposed to be their lack of a central point of failure. The idea was you couldn’t easily take down (or censor) a P2P network for that reason. With Skype, the fact is that it wasn’t completely a P2P app, as the authentication was still centralized. However, this may make some people wonder. After all, there were accusations in the past that Kazaa wasn’t really decentralized, and it was Kazaa’s founders who built Skype — and some have said that they simply reused Kazaa’s underlying code in building Skype. So, don’t be surprised to see some question how decentralized Skype really is after seeing a failure like this one.

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Companies: skype

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Comments on “Skype Outage Highlights How Skype Is A Bit More Centralized Than Expected”

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18 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Having gmail accounts me and my contacts simply switched to gTalk as a failover. Which is fine but we cant conference with it.
You would think logically that the Skype bods would have backups and redundancy for the 1 point of vulnerability in their service/network, wouldn’t you ?

Would be interested to know if users of Skype’s paid service SkypeOut are having the same problems.

Just as I type that, I find out that they are. Ho hum. At least we’re all equally insignificant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: conference chat is available on the web gtalk

Group/Conference chat is available on gTalk as a Google Talk Gadget (http://www.google.com/talk/), the web-based version of gTalk, but not on their desktop client version.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why an intelligent company like Google would have this feature disparity, esp. if you think that the desktop version (for most software)is traditionally more featureful than the web version, not the other way round.

Maybe Google is trying to wean users off their desktop client.

anonymous coward says:

We will continue to see these types of massive failures for a wide range of these “free” services that have inculcated themselves into our Internet culture.

The question is: Are these failures and system outages acceptable with a “free” product, even when that product or service becomes so widely used that it borders on being a utility?

Anonymous Coward says:

Kazaa didn’t really require user authentication. Skype, on the other hand, needs to authenticate you with a password. The Kazaar protocol for distributed search could potentially be used for fail-proof authentication, but there will be more than a few tweaks to make it secure.

It’s true that P2P architecture has inherent redundancy characteristics, but I don’t think redundancy was their main concern. They were trying to utilize the unused bandwidth that P2P architecture can afford for bandwidth-hogging apps. So it’s not too surprising to see them go central on authentication.

However, for a company serving millions of paid users, it’s a total goof-up to have total service failure. What happened to old-fashioned redundancy practices of failovers, rollbacks etc? Hasn’t ebay learned anything since the days of regular thursday downtimes?

James says:

Skype is flooding ISP networks!!!

The Skype client was not programmed to handle this sort of situation gracefully. The Skype client are in a constant state of attempting to reconnect to a wide array of different Skype servers in different geographical locations. This, in turn, seems to be what was maxing out the connection pool on NAT routers.

Hyrulio says:

Screwing with me

Since my last post, i’ve reinstalled skype, then installed the new version 3.5……. i’ve been able to connect for a few seconds every now and then.. and the bottom right cornet records only just over 400,000 people online, as opposed to the usual 6-8million!
in writing this, i have connected again, there’s only 193,233!
and now it’s kicked me off again!!! :@ :@

They should change their slogan to “Don’t hold your breath(tm)”

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