You Become what You Disrupt – (part two)

Google’s GrandCentral (Radar coverage) was down over the weekend resulting in missed calls and other phone problems for its users.

This is very similar to the the two day Skype outage last year where I said that “You Become what You Disrupt“. I’ve spoken about this issue several times, most recently at the Princeton CITP “Computing in the Cloud” workshop.

The problem is that it’s not particularly clear at what point a disruptive innovation becomes a utility. As innovators it’s important that we recognize that this point will arrive and prepare for it. I believe that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the technologies we create, and to take responsibility for protecting people who come to rely on those technologies to live their daily lives. When we fail to do that, we may find ourselves being cast as either fools or villains who must be regulated and controlled.

Ultimately, I think we will evolve a set of safety standards very similar to building codes. For instance, it appears that a multi-datacenter strategy would have prevented the GrandCentral outage. (As I’ve said many times before: Datacenters are a Single Point of Failure!)

Cofounder Craig Walker writes: “I wanted to write a quick note to all the GC users and apologize for the service interruption this morning. We had a power issue at our current colo facility and it knocked us off line for a few hours. Unfortunately I’ve been up in the mountains with the family this weekend and had no cell/internet coverage so couldn’t respond earlier. I did want to let you know that we were able to restore the service by noon today and are working extremely diligently to make sure this won’t occur in the future. We’ll do a better job keeping you informed in the future, not only about service related issues but also about upcoming features, soliciting your feedback, and generally making sure that you, the GC user, is well informed as to what’s going on with the service.”

Will better industry standards, best-practices, and independent certifying authorities emerge for these new utilities without innovation-stifling regulation? I hope so.

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