Thursday, December 23, 2010

Skype went down, so what?

Skype failLast week it was Facebook; every now and then it's Twitter. Yesterday, the often-free Skype communications software suffered a global outage: what does it mean?

The Internet web on which much of life now depends is vulnerable to relatively minor disruptions at a 'central' location (even though Skype prides itself on being a relatively dispersed network). Near-instant globalized communications mean small disruptions scale fast.

Check the Terms of Service: We have no right to complain when the 'free lunch' we've become accustomed to is no longer there, but it doesn't stop us moaning. A better response is to learn:
  • Don't rely on a single service: for example, we run a website and a blog on separate servers; and complement both with Twitter feeds and other means of communication. Yes, we use Skype. But we also have regular phone services (land line and mobile). And one falls back to the other if a message doesn't get through.
  • Carry out a SWOT analysis of your operations, focusing mostly on the "W" and "T" elements. Try to turn "W" to "S" and "T" to "O" - but also spend ten minutes thinking through the risks you face. What's the Impact of each risk? What's the Probability? If the Impact is High, but the Probability really Low then you don't need to spend as much time worrying or preparing as for something that is a Medium or High Probability...
  • Yes, it's boring. But get get into the habit of making regular backups of your key information. And keep a copy away from your main home or office location.