How Did Danger Not Backup Its Servers? How Did Microsoft Allow Such A Failure?

from the one-of-those-times-where-epic-fail-applies dept

I bought the very first Danger smartphone the day it came out (rare for me — I’m not so much of an early adopter on mobile phones). One of the features I liked the best was the fact that all of the data on the phone was immediately and automatically backed up to Danger’s servers. Since then, I’ve always been amazed that other providers didn’t make similar features standard. Danger never fully lived up to its hype, and eventually sold out to Microsoft. It was never entirely clear why Microsoft would want Danger, but at the very least you would think that it would make sure that the servers were pretty safe and redundant. Or so you would think. Apparently Danger had a massive server failure and is warning people that their data may be completely lost. The company is telling people not to turn off their devices, as the only way to keep the data alive is to keep the phone going.

It’s difficult to think of a system failure that makes a company look quite this bad. Tons of people have Sidekick phones and rely on server backup to keep their data. Not having a working redundant backup is a stunning sort of failure for Microsoft, and should remind people of the inherent dangers in relying on a cloud based service. While there are lots of cloud-based solutions that are quite useful, people are definitely going to need to be able to have alternative local and remote backups to make sure that, in this kind of situation, they’re not totally relying on a company who should do things right, but perhaps did not.

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Companies: danger, microsoft

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Comments on “How Did Danger Not Backup Its Servers? How Did Microsoft Allow Such A Failure?”

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56 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Massive FAIL

With so many options to redundantly backup data today, I have to wonder along w/you how something like this happens. Most enterprise BDR solutions come w/an onsite/offsite structure to give you multiple points of restoration.

What we use internally, for instance, backs up locally for quick restores and than replicates to an offsite secure datacenter on one side of the country. When it’s done doing that it replicates from the one offsite to a 2nd offsite on the OTHER side of the country. For us, and the customers who use our recommendation for this solution, that offers us three restore points.

We like to tell people that to lose their data, their building would have to burn down AND global warming would have to sink California…otherwise they’re in good shape.

John Doe says:

Re: Wow

It is a first rate failure for T-Mobile as it is up to them to contract with providers who can do the job. Their contract should specify backups, redundancy, load balancing and all other manners of service level agreements.

Of course it is a first rate failure on Microsoft’s part for getting into this situation without proper backups. Surely they understand the need for it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wow

It is a first rate failure for T-Mobile as it is up to them to contract with providers who can do the job.

No, by that line of reasoning it’s actually a massive FAIL for the subscribers. After all, they’re the one who signed contracts with T-Mobile that didn’t “specify backups, redundancy, load balancing and all other manners of service level agreements”. T-Mobile was under no contractual obligation to provide such things and so did not require them of own their providers.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

So not being under any contractual obligations lets them off the hook? What about the black eye they are getting? Not being under contract with the consumer is one thing. Making sure they didn’t suffer a loss to avoid embarrassment and possible mass exodus to other providers is their fault.

So yes, massive FAIL for TMobile.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wow

So not being under any contractual obligations lets them off the hook?

Well, you’re the one who introduced the “contract” reasoning.

What about the black eye they are getting?

What about it? That’s not a contract issue.

So yes, massive FAIL for TMobile.

Massive FAIL for you for not even being able to stick to your own reasoning.

Steve Ballmer says:

Re: Re: How Did Microsoft Allow Such A Failure?

Someone asked me to post a few of my favorite quotes. Always happy when someone wants to hear what I’ve said…

“Google’s not a real company. It’s a house of cards.”

“I have never, honestly, thrown a chair in my life.”

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/09/05/chair_chucking/

“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.”

“My children – in many dimensions they’re as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I’ve got my kids brainwashed: You don’t use Google, and you don’t use an iPod.”

“What we’ve gone through in the last several years has caused some people to question ‘Can we trust Microsoft?'”

We don’t have a monopoly. We have market share. There’s a difference.”

“I don’t know what a monopoly is until somebody tells me.”

ash says:

sidekick

The more I read about the phone – can’t connect to it, relies solely on a bad cloud implementation…why the hell would anyone use this? Wouldn’t it be obvious right away to anyone that cared about such things that the Sidekick is just a failed attempt at a smartphone? It seems more like a psp with phone capability than anything else. If you don’t mind not having direct access to the data you are storing on a device that is in your pocket every day, then it probably isn’t really important data.

This whole system was in place to begin with. It’s not as though MS got a hold of it and changed the way the phone worked so that it sucked. It already sucked. None of the WinMo phones behave this way…no smartphone does. The sidekick is a toy. I find it curious that someone would be smart enough to write a script to pull their data off of Danger’s web pages, but not smart enough to ditch the thing as soon as they realized they had to write a script in order to have an offline copy of their stuff.

DH says:

Microsoft's ongoing failures

Yes, there are definitely dangers in cloud computing, but this is Microsoft we’re talking about here. I’m not shocked anymore by any catastrophic failures on Microsoft’s part. From operating systems to gaming consoles to application software to, now, smart phones, Microsoft continues to demonstrate that nothing they do is worth the money they charge, no matter how much they discount the price.

When is the world going to wake up?

Mark says:

Microsoft doesn't get the cloud

I remember when Microsoft grudgingly upped my free Hotmail space limit to 250 MB, in response to the new, previously-unheard of 1GB limit at GMail. In raising my limit, Microsoft somehow managed to delete all my existing email –several years’ worth.

Cloud computing may have its attendant risks, but of Yahoo, Microsoft and Google, only Microsoft has ever deleted all my stuff. I would never, ever trust them with my data — not on a Windows OS, not in an Office application, and certainly not ever in the “cloud”.

The difference between Google and Microsoft in this respect couldn’t be more obvious. Google may screw up eventually, but they strike me as archivists by nature. Microsoft? No way.

j. wyatt (profile) says:

back this up on your iPhone

I use my winMo phone with g-mail and google-contacts. Instant update and back up with over-the-air automatic sync. Doesn’t seem to be a problem. Cheez-it.

And while AT&T tries to tell me what apps I can run on my phone (no worries, it’s unlocked now 😉 ), Microsoft can’t kill anything – unlike the iPhone.

OS2 says:

Re: Re:

Not in deed. If we are talking about deeds, then it was Microsoft’s deed to create an operating system for IBM. They either failed at this, or never intended on delivering OS2. It was allowed to die on the vine until their customer, IBM gave up.

Great legacy Microsoft. Ruthless and incapable of completing a contract for one of your best customers, and the customer who, by the way, was responsible for your very success.

This is what they have now done to a million T-Mobile customers.

OS2: Yet another failure that Microsoft “allowed”.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

No Big Surprise

It’s very difficult to back up a Microsoft OS. You need special “ghosting” tools—you can’t just do straight file copies with an off-the-shelf tool like rsync, the way you can on a Unix/Linux system.

I know what you’re thinking—isn’t the OS a separate thing from user data? It is on a rationally-designed OS, where you can backup and restore one without touching the other. Unfortunately that’s not true of Microsoft OSes.

joel Bradshaw (profile) says:

They wanted to make the cloud look bad...

What if micro$oft who has waaay too much money and wants more… had an evil idea to help discredit the cloud. Buy a company with cloud services, let if fail, show how fragile data is, and steer people back to fat apps that reside on their own computers and servers which they can backup as often as they like….

not saying that’s the case, but it would help their cause, and hurt people who see the cloud as the future…

cc says:

“What if micro$oft who has waaay too much money and wants more… had an evil idea to help discredit the cloud. Buy a company with cloud services, let if fail, show how fragile data is, and steer people back to fat apps that reside on their own computers and servers which they can backup as often as they like….”

Then it’s no less far-fetched to say this is sabotage by some other company who wants to hurt Microsoft’s cloud efforts.

jsf (profile) says:

NOT Cloud Computing

One thing that gets skipped in this whole thing is that Danger/Sidekick is not a cloud computing service. It is a plain old client/server system. Unlike a true cloud system there was single place where all the data was stored. The data was not spread over multiple systems in a dynamically scalable manner. If it would have been an actual cloud based system the loss of data would have only effected a small portion of users, if any at all.

cc says:

I disagree. The Cloud is just a marketing buzzword to describe a twist on the plain old client/server model. Load balancing/redundancy/replicas, distributed data structures etc etc have been around forever. The thing is, we don’t actually know which of those things Danger had in place, if any.

In the end, it is a matter of putting all the consumers’ eggs in the same basket and giving the basket to a bunch of strangers. What reassurance do you have that those strangers won’t conveniently forget to set up replicas to cut their costs, or, perhaps worse yet, get curious and start poking in your private data?
I wouldn’t personally want to put _all_ the data on my computer on somebody else’s server no matter how safe or secure they claim it is!

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