Monday, August 20, 2007

Skype Explains the Cause of Its Outage ... and Underscores the Point That All P2P Models Are Not Created Equal

Skype today explained the cause of its outage last week that left the majority of its users worldwide without service. According to Skype (from the official post linked to its website):

"The disruption was triggered by a massive restart of our users’ computers across the globe within a very short time frame as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches through Windows Update. The high number of restarts affected Skype’s network resources. This caused a flood of log-in requests, which, combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction that had a critical impact."

Skype's official post goes on to state:

"This disruption was unprecedented in terms of its impact and scope. We would like to point out that very few technologies or communications networks today are guaranteed to operate without interruptions."

Skype, of course, is correct to point out that no technology or network is completely immune to service interruption or disruption. Listen, IP communications is complex stuff! Nonetheless, the unprecedented nature of Skype's disruption -- the majority of its millions of users were offline for multiple days -- underscores the unique vulnerabilities posed by Skype's "SuperNode" flavor of Peer-to-Peer (in Skype's own words, "the lack of peer-to-peer network resources").

As pointed out by Aron Rosenberg, CTO/Founder of SightSpeed on Friday, other Peer-to-Peer models do not work this way and, therefore, are not exposed to the same kinds of vulnerabilities. In other words, all P2P is not created equal.

NOTE SUBSEQUENT TO ORIGINAL POSTING -- since Skype gave its "official" explanation for the cause of its outage earlier today, a number of writers and bloggers have gone on record challenging it ... and this continues to be a story in and of itself (and one that seems to be building momentum as the day goes on). Typical is the recent post by Ryan Naraine of ZDNet who just wrote, "The Windows Update explanation seems a bit bizarre. After all, Microsoft has been delivering automatic updates (and simultaneous reboots) every month since 2003. Something still isn’t adding up." Others -- including Skype users -- are much more pointed in their appraisal.

Blockbuster Acquired Movielink for a Song

Remember Blockbuster's recent acquisition of Movielink? Well, the price tag was even more of a bargain than originally understood. According to Daily Variety, after first flirting to buy Movielink for $70 million one year ago and $50 million just several months ago, Blockbuster paid only $6.6 million in an all cash deal that closed last week. For the studios involved in Movielink over the past several years, their return on their $100 million investment literally was only pennies on the dollar.

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