In case you hadn’t heard, Skype had a major outage last week and the popular calling service was rendered useless for more than thirty hours. Not only is Skype a major form of communication for millions of business people globally (the TechnoBuffalo staff included), but the holidays are one of the busiest times of year for the company, as casual users take advantage of the service to spread holiday cheer. To say the outage was an inconvenience is an understatement as many wondered if they had Internet or computer issues, not initially considering a service disruption for the usually reliable VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) provider.
This was the first major Skype outage since 2007, and speculation started running wild in relation to hackers and malicious acts. Initially reports were that some of the “supernodes” that Skype implements went off line and engineers were working around the clock to restore service. Executive Officer Tony Bates stated, “We now know what caused a number of clients to actually crash. We’ve been able to mitigate that crash risk and isolate that.” Bates was not specific as to what caused the crash.
Skype is now playing the damage control game, and will give pre-pay and pay-as-you go users thirty minutes of free calling while active subscribers will receive an extra weeks subscription to make up for the loss of service. According to regulatory filings, Skype has more than 560 million users, but only 1.4 percent pay for the service.
Although the Skype outage was a major pain, I have found the service to be surprisingly reliable, but did have to find alternative ways to communicate. During the outage I connected with my contacts via Google Talk and email, we made due for the most part. I haven’t lost confidence in Skype just yet, but one or two more of these long term outages may drive me away.
How did you cope with the thirty hour outage? Do you think the free minutes and extensions are appropriate or do you think users deserve more? Let me know in the comments below.