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Skype Outage Hits Users Worldwide

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-talk-for-you dept.

Businesses 167

Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that millions of Skype phone users worldwide couldn't make calls or were dropped in mid-conversation because of a network connection failure that began about 9 AM Wednesday PST. 'For a communications system this large to go down, it's almost unheard of,' says Charles S. Golvin, a Forrester Research analyst. 'Usually when phone lines are disrupted, the blackout is confined to a specific geographical area. This is worldwide.' In theory, Skype, which is based on peer-to-peer networking technology, shouldn't see an outage, but that is not really the case — the company has a massive infrastructure that it uses for purposes such as authentication and linking to the traditional phone networks. 'The outage comes at a time when Skype is starting to ask larger corporations for their business,' writes Om Malik. 'If I am a big business, I would be extremely cautious about adopting Skype for business, especially in the light of this current outage.'"

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167 comments

gee.. (0, Offtopic)

bball99 (232214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650864)

it took long enough for this storage to hit /.

was there and editorial outage?

Re:gee.. (4, Informative)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650894)

It's still ongoing right now, albeit intermittently. I'm seeing drop-outs on the distribution of my skype status (despite my local 'net connection being fine).

Re:gee.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650910)

it took long enough for this storage to hit /.

was there and editorial outage?

Where's the news article on this "storage" that hit slashdot? Anyone hurt?

Re:gee.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650936)

Obviously there was "and" editorial outage that prevented the story from being covered.

Re:gee.. (0)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651074)

The sad thing is Slashdot got "scooped" by a newspaper on a tech story.

Re:gee.. (5, Insightful)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651538)

Slashdot is a news aggregator. They don't report news. They don't have reporters or journalists.

You have a 4 digit UID.. how do you not know this?

Re:gee.. (2)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651972)

Slashdot gets "scooped" like this quite frequently, but that's not really the point. It's meant to be a forum where, in an ideal situation, users can discuss and expand their insight into such news. Sure, a lot of material of tangential, marginal or no relevance does come up, but that's part of what makes the openness of Slashdot so good. On a good day, anyway.

In my case, the first "contact" was being unable to login to Skype, then finding a newspaper article about the outage, which saved me the trouble of investigating whether the problem was anything I could fix. No biggie.

I don't care that Slashdot got scooped. (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652090)

What I'd rather see on Slashdot is an analysis of the problem that leads to solutions.

In that direction - any recommended alternatives. I see plenty of person-to-person VOIP solutions; but none that worked as well with 5-10 person conference calls and ran on both windows and linux. Anyone know of any?

Re:gee.. (1)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650944)

Oregon?

Re:gee.. (1, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651150)

Oregon?

Basil?

Re:gee.. (2)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651266)

Oregon?

Basil?

Oregon = state
Oregano = seasoning

Re:gee.. (1)

ThatMegathronDude (1189203) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651360)

Whoosh

Re:gee.. (2)

cab15625 (710956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651428)

yes, but Basil is faulty

Re:gee.. (2)

tom17 (659054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651586)

Your spelling is fawlty

Re:gee.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651746)

Don't mention the war!

Re:gee.. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651144)

Where's the news article on this "storage"

It was riding back in "steerage".

Re:gee.. (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651254)

It took a while to get the word out because the editors use skype to communicate.

RIP skype (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650880)

Now when skype sucks a bit more, maybe it's time for our company to search for the open source alternatives....

Re:RIP skype (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651620)

It's called Asterisk and a SIP trunk.

Re:RIP skype (4, Insightful)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651626)

Open source alternative to skype? Skype isn't just software! Who would pay for all the links to national telecoms etc... ?

Re:RIP skype (4, Interesting)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652198)

Skype doesn't suck any more than it did yesterday. OK, well I guess maybe it does, since at the moment it isn't working.

But there has been no deception: when we sign up, we are made completely aware that Skype is not a replacement for a permanent line.

If you are running a business that uses Skype (I don't say "depends" because it would be too stupid to build your business around something over which you have so little control), you should consider having at least one "fixed" line or at least a working and tested SIP setup.

In my case, since I use Skype for personal purposes, the outage isn't the end of the world. It could have happened at a better time of the year, but I have alternatives: I have a SIP handset hanging off the back of my modem and I have my mobile phone. And, of course if I have to, I could run a SIP client via my tethered phone or USB wireless dongle. Or I could get off my ass and do something radical like write a fucking letter. Whatever.

But I'm getting away from my point, which is that Skype is too good a service for me to abandon it because of one day's hiccup. Having the combination of an IM and VOIP client integrated in a product that already has near-universal "headspace awareness" among my non-geeky acquaintances is valuable. Sure, there are alternatives for each of these (and maybe both, for all I know), but my friends have to know about them too for them to be any use.

So hopefully, when the dust settles after this outage, the Skype developers will be able to use this experience to build more robustness into what is already a great product.

If I were a government shill (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650886)

I would be talking about how this is exactly why we need to lock up the internet, take away free speech, and kill net neutrality. I wouldn't know, of course, but I would still be using this as an example of how terrorists can take away our freedom of speech, so our own government should pass laws that take it away first, so the terrorist don't win.

Skype; peer to peer... via a corporation's server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650896)

Skype's much hyped peer to peer service is a scam. You will pay for it.

Year end reviews (3, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650898)

Apparently this article [slashdot.org] was published too soon. Those year end reviews should include the last few weeks of the year before.

Re:Year end reviews (2)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650984)

Or "year end" reviews could be written in early January so they, you know, include the year end. :)

But, yeah, doing an annual summary before the year is over is silly.

However, it's at least one of the first times when the Slashdot news isn't old. This is so fresh, it's not even ripe.

Re:Year end reviews (1)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651240)

By theory on why they do it before the end of the year is that doing it at the beginning of the year wouldn't be forward thinking nor as positive so readers wouldn't warm up to it as much. Hence all the new years resolutions. Kinda demonstrates how unscientific thinking the general public is. Those year end wrap ups aren't really meant to be a comprehensive list so much as something to warm your heart.

Re:Year end reviews (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652248)

"Year end" means different things in different countries, in any case. Here in Australia, the financial year ends on 30th June, while in the UK and other countries the date varies from one company to the next according to when it was fired up.

Re:Year end reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651384)

About a week or so before the end of the year 2004, the Queen of England issued a statement commenting that 2004 had been such a wonderful year, and everybody was happy, and every park in London was filled with pink unicorns that farted rainbows. And then, a couple of days later, the word "tsunami" became a part of Joe Sixpack's lexicon all over the world.

Re:Year end reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651606)

I work in a small business. The fiscal year for our business (can't speak for others) ends on Nov 30. Starting Dec. 1st, it's the new year =)

Re:Year end reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652210)

Apparently this article [slashdot.org] was published too soon. Those year end reviews should include the last few weeks of the year before.

The year-end reviews should come in the first week of January.

If people want to publish articles in December, they should be publishing "what to expect next year" stuff (i.e. publish those before January 1).

Centralaisation (5, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650900)

Increasingly more and more communication is becoming centralised. People use Facebook to send messages rather than email, Skype rather than direct voip calls, Twitter to keen people informed. Even email relies on central webservers. Gone is the days that typical emails would travel from your computer to the other persons directly, or at most via their local ISP.

Aside from being exactly what the internet is designed to avoid, it's also handing control to corporations that are
1) Too big for governments to influence
2) Too big to fail

I for one hope for more large scale outages, hopefully it will stem the tide, but like Cnut, we can't stop the inevitable.

Re:Centralaisation (3, Insightful)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650950)

Aside from being exactly what the internet is designed to avoid, it's also handing control to corporations that are
1) Too big for governments to influence
2) Too big to fail

Hang on, I'm waiting for the "W" to finish, before I get to the "TF" part.....

ok. Done.

Too big for government to influence? Depending on how much credence you give to the fringe of the internet, Joe Lieberman may have personally yanked Wikileaks' servers from Amazon's datacenters and pissed on the still spinning fans. There isn't a company on earth, from a dollar store on 8-mile to Google themselves, that isn't above government influence.

Too big to fail? I'm gonna go ahead and guess that Facebook and Skype combined don't directly employ as many people as a single GM or Chrysler assembly plant. If facebook or skype fails today, I'm pretty sure the sun will come up tomorrow. Now, IBM might be a different story...

Re:Centralaisation (-1, Offtopic)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652060)

Too big to fail? I'm gonna go ahead and guess that Facebook and Skype combined don't directly employ as many people as a single GM or Chrysler assembly plant

No. But they do employ a lot larger percentage of lazy fucking pieces of shit that needed to lose their jobs. The unions were good in the beginning but now they are mostly just thug organizations that wield political power for themselves and against the people.

Re:Centralaisation (5, Interesting)

duggi (1114563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650970)

Actually it is a cycle. De-centralised to centralised then centralised to de-centralised. A lot of concepts work this way. From political power (Local government to kingdom to local government) to computing (mainframe to data centre to cloud), we see this cycle a lot.
I actually hope that someone does a study of this phenomenon, and finds out an equilibrium which has advantages of de centralisation and centralisation. That would be something.

Don't forget.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651012)

...'parallel to serial to parallel' and 'optical to electrical to optical' :)

Seriously though, as technology improves it often leads to 'old concepts' being re-examined and implemented in a new manner that is usually more effective than the initial parts.

While not always true a lot of technology has sprung up like this, especially in the computer world.

Re:Don't forget.... (2)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651524)

Another tech example: WebTV to internet is only on computers to "App Enabled" blue ray players / GoogleTV(and others).

Some tech comes out, slowly is found to have limitations, is replaced by another tech that is completely radical in it's approach, eventually it has limitations too, is replaced by a reimagining of the first tech with some parts of the 2nd tech... it's a standard cycle alright.

Another (non-tech) example: Father is a taskmaster, strict, and prudish. Son is rebellious and becomes loose, overindulging, and 'free spirited'. Grandson reacts to Dad's overindulgence and lack of structure with a desire to "do better for my son", becomes strict and prudish... rinse, wash, repeat. It's not a "forgone conclusion" that things will go this way, but if you look, it seems the norm that a person will react to their parents' behaviors and do the opposite.

You'll also find our culture swings like this too... the puritan years of ~ 1890 - 1900, the "roaring 20's", the "good old days" of the 40s and 50s, the 60s (enough said), though in each swing, the overall move is to less prudish it seems, and the swings appear to be less of a violent black/white swing.

I guess the pendulum swing is just a part of human nature, but perhaps there is an equilibrium that can be reached that is best for all...

Circuit Analogy (4, Interesting)

dtmos (447842) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651548)

The best circuit analogy I've seen to this switching between a distinct pair of alternatives is a delta-sigma analog-to-digital converter [wikipedia.org] (or sigma-delta converter, depending on your dialect). This converter takes an analog signal input, but the output is only one of two values, 1 or 0. The long-term average of the output pulses is equal to the input analog voltage, but at any given instant the output is at one of the rails (1 or 0).

It's like saying that at any instant the US government is controlled by Democrats or Republicans, but the long-term average (representing the input to the system, i.e., the wishes of the people) is somewhere between these extremes. Or the old argument about whether a company should be organized around functions (having, e.g., an engineering department, a sales department, etc., each handling all products) or products (having, e.g., a Product A division, a Product B division, etc., each handling all functions). Each new CEO switches the company from one to the other, while the optimum is some unattainable blend of the two. (Don't mention matrix management.)

Interestingly, one of the most prized features of delta-sigma converters is that their noise is "shaped", that is, pushed to higher frequencies out of band, so it can be easily filtered. This greatly increases the performance attainable with a given technology. Every time I hear protest voices in democratic governments, or organizational griping by corporate salarymen, I always pause to wonder if I am listening to this feature of the converter, too. And whether I should filter it.

Re:Centralaisation (1)

rmccoy (318169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652236)

You might be interested in Tim Wu's book "The Master Switch." It deals in the technology cycle from Wild West to Corporate Control using historical examples starting with Bell

I just started reading it so I have no review but it does look promising.

Re:Centralaisation (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651050)

1) Too big for governments to influence

Governments prefer big corporations. One or two big corporations are much easier to control than a lot of small companies (some of which the government might not even be aware of). This is part of the reason why the more an industry is regulated, "to protect the little guy", the more it is dominated by big corporations (and the more the little guy gets screwed over). The effect of government regulations is to consolidate control of an industry in the hands of a few corporations, even if a government regulation is.intended to do the opposite.

Re:Centralaisation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651286)

Corporations prefer big parties. One or two big parties are much easier to control than a lot of small ones (some of which the corporation might not even be aware of)

FTFY

Re:Centralaisation (2)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651504)

Governments prefer big corporations. One or two big corporations are much easier to control than a lot of small companies (some of which the government might not even be aware of).

On the other hand, small corporations can't cause nearly so much trouble for governments as large ones so are preferable to government in other respects. What changes isn't what the effects of scale actually are, but what value is attached to particular parts of those effects; that's what drives the cycles.

Re:Centralaisation (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651728)

As corporations get larger, the distinction between who represents the government and who represents the corporation become blurred, just look at Goldman Sachs and the present Administration in the U.S..

Re:Centralaisation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651762)

Put yourself in the role of a regulator. You either run an army of people that keep track of hundreds or thousands of small businesses or you are part of that army. Would you rather have to deal with a handful of big players or a few thousand small ones? Your job will be much easier if you are dealing with the same people all the time, rather than a thousand anonymous "clients". The big guys turn their paperwork in on time and it's always done the way you expect. Also, they tend to do things like share the gourmet lunch that just happened to be catered at their office that day you visited or they "know a guy" who can hook you up with great tickets to the ball game or they're looking for a new head of xyz compliance and do you know anyone who might be interested in that type of high-paying job next year; and by the way, would you like to meet the compliance consulting agency that they hired? They're also looking for new talent right now.

Add to that the laywers and lobbyists paid to influence the regulations you're enforcing and you are soon working for them even when you're paid by the government. There's a lot of money and interest pushing on the corporate influence side of the equation and very little to counter-balance it on the public interest side.

Re:Centralaisation (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651530)

One or two big corporations are much easier to control than a lot of small companies (some of which the government might not even be aware of).

Perhaps your government can control facebook. Today. Does the government of Paraguay have any influence?

The U.S. is currently top dog, although I note that Zuckenberg is building bridges with China. I wonder how the government would change it's views if the headquarters and important people of google, microsoft, etc. weren't in the US, or weren't American citizens.

Re:Centralaisation (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651684)

Perhaps your government can control facebook. Today. Does the government of Paraguay have any influence?

That's because Facebook's central offices and owner do not reside in Paraguay. So, you are right, Paraguay's government would prefer a company based in Paraguay. However, they would prefer one large company based in Paraguay to many small companies based in Paraguay.
We have already seen how the government would change if those companies were not based where the U.S. government could control them, they would work to favor their domestic competitors.

Re:Centralaisation (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651092)

You make a good point about centralization == bad.

That's why I've kept my Landline phone, because it still works even when the DSL goes down (dialup backup) or power goes out (has its own power) or cellphone towers are overloaded. Ditto why my TV comes-in via antenna instead of the unreliable CATV line. It's not a good idea to move everything to the internet, which has demonstrated itself to have more downtime than the older 1800s-era technologies.

As for saving money on long distance, I use a calling card. 5 cents a minute or just $30 for 10+ hours. So it's almost as cheap as Skype but a lot more mobile (I can use it any gas station or hotel). Also cheaper than my cellphone plan at 18 cents/minute.

Re:Centralaisation (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651160)

It's an interesting theory, but I'm not sure how useful it is in practice. Currently there are three ways I can contact people in the event of an emergency. One is the VOIP phone (which is battery backed up against power failures), one is my cell phone, and one is walking down to the corner where there's still an honest to goodness pay phone. Realistically if I'm in a position where all three of these methods are unavailable, there's a good chance that either land line telephone will have been cut as well, or that I'm so completely screwed that it probably doesn't matter.

Re:Centralaisation (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651654)

I experienced a tropical storm just a few years ago where the power was out for several days (no computer==no VOIP), the celltowers were long dead, and the gas station was a 3 mile walk. The only thing that still worked was my landline phone. It only costs ~$7/month so I can't think of any reason to disconnect it.

Re:Centralaisation (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651720)

It no longer pays enough for a company to provide payphones. One of the few remaining companies had started abandoning broken payphones then all of them were removed in a short time period.

The last time I used a payphone was...years ago.

Re:Centralaisation (1)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652164)

You make a good point about centralization == bad.

That's why I've kept my Landline phone, because it still works even when the DSL goes down (dialup backup) or power goes out (has its own power) or cellphone towers are overloaded.

What the hell are you talking about.

The most common cause of a DSL line going down is a problem with the signal coming to your premises aka some copper somewhere along the way is a bit too shitty.
Your DSL line and your landline use the exact same copper pair.
When your DSL line goes down, whether your landline phone continues to work or not depends on how bad is the cable damaged. If it's anything serious, your landline phone will be just as dead.

Re:Centralaisation (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651228)

Gone is the days that typical emails would travel from your computer to the other persons directly, or at most via their local ISP.

Emails were going from computer to computer directly? I am not sure you are fully aware of how email is being transmitted. Email always went through buffering and spooling and in the early days it used to be buffered for quite a while. Even today mail travels through many routers and sometimes gets buffered and relayed later as part of traffic management by the backbone providers. And it was always between your mail server and the addressee's mail server. Both sender's and the receiver's computers were considered clients to their respective servers.

Re:Centralaisation (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651760)

6 billion people don't use facebook.

Reality (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650930)

'The outage comes at a time when Skype is starting to ask larger corporations for their business,' writes Om Malik. 'If I am a big business, I would be extremely cautious about adopting Skype for business, especially in the light of this current outage.'

I can't help but wonder why people expect a company like Skype to provide perfect uptime, assuming just because they're an 'internet-company', when local providers can have similar troubles.

Sure, such an impact on a global scale is, err, not very prestigious, But there were enough major outages in the past by standard telcos that had similar debilitating effects (unless you happen to be an international corporation of considerable size. Sure, a company like IBM should now think twice about putting their money on Skype alone, but such companies surely aren't quite the target customer group Skype is aiming at right now). So the above statement, to me, sounds more like someone wanting to say SOMETHING... It doesn't have much value in the real world, though.

Re:Reality - FUD (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650948)

I can't help but wonder if one of the larger telcos introduced a worm into the system just to mess with Skype (and inexpensive internet telephony in general).

Re:Reality (1)

puto (533470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650992)

The old copper lines were trivially easy to maintain and keep operating, even with power outages. Traditional telcos simply have more experience than "internet" companies in running large communication networks.

So, Verizon, ATT, et al... (2, Interesting)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650942)

This is your response to the Net Neutrality Bill? Very clever...

Question: do torrents still work, or did the bastards turn that off too?

The good point is that we have Alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650972)

Skype doesn't support Federation what would avoid most of the outage issues they have: http://bit.ly/et4Vya

twitter is suffering from the same syndrome and will have to change soon, specially being a free service.

FRAGILE?? NOT FRAGILE?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650998)

It's is Yes, or is it BTO? You be the judge !!

Skypenames2.exe - In case you're wondering... (3, Informative)

Japong (793982) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651048)

Halfway through yesterday my Skype stopped working, just like everybody else's.

It then tried to reconnect, and out of the blue gave me a pop-up saying "Skypenames2.exe wants to use Skype" with the options "Allow access" or "Deny access."

This naturally set off a few alarm bells, but as it turns out it isn't malware or a virus, just a poorly named Skype component. It allows you to click telephone links in IE or a Mozilla-based browser and make direct phone calls using Skype. Personally I don't want or need that kind of integration, so I declined.

Re: Skypenames2.exe - In case you're wondering... (2)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651174)

... but you still have this crap running in the background.

Re: Skypenames2.exe - In case you're wondering... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651840)

... but you still have this crap running in the background.

And that matters when your $400 Toshiba Sattelite [walmart.com] has a 2.2 GHz AMD dual-core CPU with 3 GB RAM and 64 bit Win 7?

You have a laptop with credible specs, a camera, a microphone, and a 16" display. You might as well install the app that can make good use of all these things.

How to find the who is responsible for this. (2, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651054)

Just find the Verizon/ATT/Sprint/ executive with a smug face and a sheepish grin. He did it.

Re:How to find the who is responsible for this. (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651430)

Could be. Or Skype could have dropped a call from Wikileaks and Anonymous DDoS'd them. Of course, since there was an actual effect it probably wasn't them.

Funny how.... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651056)

Funny how moving into the telecom commercial demographic, they are hit mysteriously with something that makes their
adoption doubtful....really interesting, I wonder if there is any background on tracing the disruption, maybe it is linked to
sort of DDoS attack but made by phones to any skype IN......overload their systems on purpose to discredit their
stability.

AHA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651090)

So that's why Skype tried to opened my Visual Studio debugger yesterday...

Call me paranoid... (1, Insightful)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651098)

...but I still think that Admins, or so called 'IT-Specialists', which are suggesting Google Documents and Skype for serious business use should be moved to the cleaning staff (or at least as far away from the IT infrastructure as possible).

Re:Call me paranoid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651176)

As if the Email server or MS Exchange server or the Landline Phone network never has any downtime or meet the Grapola God in its infancy or during peak times.

Re:Call me paranoid... (0)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651198)

It's not about downtime...it's about data security and controllability.

Re:Call me paranoid... (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651262)

And how much control do you have over the telcoms?
At my office we our phones went out for four hours. A construction crew cut a phone cable. Two days latter the same crew did it again!

I would never use skype as the only method of telcom but it could be handy if we could intergrate it into our phone system so customers could call us on Skype and have it go right into our phone system.

Re:Call me paranoid... (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651372)

As a startup, Google Docs are awesome. As a major company, I'd be moving away from them as soon as I had a formal IT department.

Ideally, there would be a Google Apps appliance. Best of both worlds.

Re:Call me paranoid... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651376)

Your business trusts a bank to handle their money? A payroll bureau to handle payroll? An accountant to deal with tax issues? Are these not also things which you'd rather the world didn't learn about?

There are lots of things that are considered and values assigned when these things are brought up, and the fact of the matter is that your concerns are almost invariably given a remarkably low priority these days. Doubtless five or ten years from now we'll come full circle and solid, reliable server equipment with the sort of resilience that today we associate with clusters, SANs and virtualisation will be so cheap that it'd be barking mad to outsource it to someone you can't have any real trust in when you could run your own for much the same, if not less money.

Re:Call me paranoid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651710)

several banks and institutions incase one fails, accountant figures are double checked with internal figures, code is audited by 3rd partie...no business relationship is based on 'complete trust' that the other party will just do whatever it is they are paid to do.

Re:Call me paranoid... (5, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651466)

I think you're making an overly broad and general statement about a very situation specific topic. For *many* businesses *much* of the time, a service like Google Documents and Skype provides adequate levels of QOS, and may be considerably better than that same company could do on its own. If you have a ten or twenty person business with a relatively small IT budget, Google Docs is likely better than what you could do for yourself. By the time you pay a specialist IT guy, buy servers, buy backup solutions, buy an office suite ( you could save this cost by using Open Source, but frankly office suites are one area that I'd rather just pay for it. I've never cared much for OO.org or whatever they call themselves now that they forked) for every workstation... You're talking a huge investment. Google will do it cheaper, likely better, and if you have to deal with the occasional outage, well it's not likely to destroy your business if it's down for a couple hours. Anyway it's just as likely that your local file server might go down for a few hours (or even a few days if you paid for the cheap support package).

Now if you're the sort of business where any downtime is costing you a fortune, then you're in a different boat and Google may not be the best choice. If you've already made the infrastructure investment, then a lot of the reason for using Google goes away. If you've got the in house expertise to handle this stuff for minimal expense, then maybe Google isn't a good idea. If you're a big enough operation that you can develop your own economies of scale, it may make more sense for you to do so... There's lots of reasons to not use Google, but just to globally say that anyone who ever suggests it should be made a janitor is quite foolish as well.

As a side note, if you're the kind of business where any down time will cost you a fortune, and you haven't paid for redundant *everything* (Internet connection, mail server, file server, web server, power, HVAC... and on and on), you're fooling yourself thinking that you avoid outages by not using Google.

Re:Call me paranoid... (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651664)

Agreed! Especially when there are tons of reputable SIP providers to choose from, why use Skype? :-\

It's gonna take a shit-ton of powerful marketing for Skype to overpower common sense and break into an established, competitive market of open options...maybe Cisco can give them some advice.

Oh the irony... (4, Funny)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651100)

After convincing my boss and *his* boss about the benefits of Skype, yesterday was the day I was going to demo it to show how it works, benefits, video, etc.

Suffice to say, the demo did not go well.

Re:Oh the irony... (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651600)

Genuinely interested into whether or not the outage today caused your boss and his boss to give up on Skype or whether they're intelligent enough to understand that these kind of outages are rare. Keep us posted if you don't mind :)

Re:Oh the irony... (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651952)

They may be rare with Skype, but they are far more rare with a traditional telephone system.

Re:Oh the irony... (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652272)

Right, and computers break down much more often than typewriters, but at some point you have to ask yourself if your SLA can handle it and whether the benefits are worth it.

Re:Oh the irony... (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651700)

Serves you right! Why would you introduce your boss to Skype instead of SIP!?

Re:Oh the irony... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651714)

Alanis?

Skype login (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651140)

the company has a massive infrastructure that it uses for purposes such as authentication

I've always been amazed by the large amount of time it takes to be authenticated from a Skype server, compared to connections to other providers - time that suggests there is something wrong with their infrastructure.

Re:Skype login (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651392)

I get the distinct impression that Skype was always designed with a maximum of a few hundred, maybe a couple of thousand users in mind - and since then they've been running around trying desperately to retrofit the sort of reliability that would have been there from day 1 had that reliability been part of the original design.

Tinfoil hat : WikiLeaks (1, Funny)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651148)

Skype video conference is Julian Assange's preferred interview medium ; now he's under house arrest, anyone wanting to interview him will have to call using the traditional phone network or use an alternate videoconference system. I think some of the news organizations were sending outside broadcast trucks to interview him.

Yes, this is on the left field of paranoid. But someone had to say it :-)

Ekiga anyone? (3, Interesting)

gbl08ma (1904378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651204)

My Ekiga account which uses the much more "open" and widely supported Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is still up and running. By "widely supported" I mean that many more applications support it (while Skype is a proprietary form of VoIP), not that more people use it.
Time to laugh of all my friends that are now trying to use Skype! (soon I'll be receiving messages through MSN - not IRC or GTalk - asking why Skype stopped working)

Re:Ekiga anyone? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651574)

Time to laugh of all my friends that are now trying to use Skype! (soon I'll be receiving messages through MSN - not IRC or GTalk - asking why Skype stopped working)

Please let me know when a phone provider like my current one (Three [three.co.uk] ) provides unlimited free usage of 'Ekiga' over their network without even requiring an Internet plan like Skype does and offers something similar to "Skype access", which I'm using at this very moment in Glasgow airport as I wait for my plane.

Re:Ekiga anyone? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651754)

The problem is with your lack of an unlimited (or at least unrestricted) mobile data plan, not any VoIP service.

Supernode (3, Interesting)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651328)

Hmmm, I wonder if this ties in with the fact that last night my computer started spewing tens of thousands of packets on port 443 (https). My guess is that it became a Spype supernode. Needless to say, the network admins were not very happy about this. I couldn't find a way to disable it in Ubuntu, so it's gonna be goodbye Skype for now, unless someone can suggest a solution.

Re:Supernode (4, Interesting)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651444)

Skype uses interesting techniques to punch holes in firewalls to allow that peer-to-peer connection. Rather than relying on some type of dynamic port mapping via UPnP, Skype's central server (or perhaps the supernodes?) tell each computer to contact the other, causing the NAT device to dynamically map the required ports at the time a call is made. From what I've heard, the NAT traversal that Skype uses was pioneered by them, but I believe the technique has since been adopted by many other applications.

Skype has a little checkbox somewhere that says "Use ports 80 and 443" as alternates. Unchecking that might help you here.

Re:Supernode (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651516)

The Linux version of the Skype client doesn't have those "Use ports 80 and 443" options that i can see.

Re:Supernode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651472)

Firewall the thing off to everyhing but localhost, start a socks tunnel to your own localhost ssh server, then set Skype to use the socks connection. This blocks their p2p daemon while the app can run just fine. Just firewalling off all inbound connections might work as well.

Slashdot being late ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651356)

Why does LA Times cover that BEFORE slashdot?

Exactly as I say (1)

next_ghost (1868792) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651410)

If some system relies on single (or a limited number of) provider(s), you can't really call it distributed. No matter how much of the system's costs is off-loaded to the end-user, there're still only a few key points which can bring the entire network down. Don't mistake cost off-loading systems (Skype) for truly distributed and therefore robust ones (SIP, XMPP).

Mod Parent Up (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34652268)

100% accurate

skype says "supernode" problem is to blame (2)

itwbennett (1594911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651424)

Skype is blaming its peer-to-peer interconnection system for the problem. In an official blog post, the company said: 'Our engineers are creating new 'mega-supernodes' as fast as they can, which should gradually return things to normal.' http://www.itworld.com/networking/131617/skype-blames-service-outage-supernode-problem [itworld.com] . And as of 8 a.m. Thursday, Skype said about 2/3 of users still can't log in. http://www.itworld.com/networking/131655/skype-says-two-thirds-users-still-cant-log [itworld.com]

mod 04 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651526)

the propject to

Can happen to telcos to... (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34651740)

All the major telcos have switched or are switching to "Soft Switches" meaning they are doing away with their old EWSD, DMS100 etc... hardware based switches and converting all their customers to Voip, then trunking it back to their headquarters where they have a software based switch. This saves them a lot of money but also centralizes the switching system and can lead to huge outages. I've seen them happen, so large than nearly the entire customer base of a company is out of service. But Customers are used to rare outages and if all the phones in town go out once or twice a year people chalk it up as "normal." What they don't realize is that it wasn't just their town, it was hundreds of citys all over the country. Even regulatory authorities treat each city outage separately so there's no real record of just how big the outages are.

DoS (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651828)

Looks to me like a classic DoS against the "supernodes". Probably why they, according to Skype, started disappearing. In the Skype architecture, basically if you run an instance on a machine not behind a firewall or NAT, chances are that you are running a supernode and contributing to the Skype p2p network. Your IP is distributed across the network for referece.

I happen to have a machine that runs a supernode and about 12 hours ago I had real trouble accessing the machine while Skype was consuming 99% of CPU cycles. Incidentally, the same machine has an Apache listening on port 80 and SVN on 443. They were being flooded as well, due to the fact that Skype commonly listens on those ports as well (not in my case, due to my setup). Apache logs for the day was over 10GiB, containing the evidence. Apparently, Apache was taking the pounding much better, remaining responsive.

This seems to be a siginificant weakness in the Skype architecture as they are relying on 3rd parties for their core infrastructure. Incidentally, this also makes easy targets of guys that contribute to the network as supernodes.

A snippet from the Apache log:

[Thu Dec 23 13:52:50 2010] [error] [client *.*.*.*] (22)Invalid argument: Cannot map \xd0\x15X\xbf\xf9\x99J\x19\xb7;P(\xe2(\x98\xfe\xb8"\x07[N_^\xda\xb5\xe9\x8ef\xb0\xe4\x82\xaa\x9dMZ\x9d5G\x04\x8f\x11W\xf8d\x0c\x819\xb1\xc6\x81\xe9n\xc5\xd9 to file
[Thu Dec 23 13:52:50 2010] [error] [client *.*.*.*] (22)Invalid argument: Cannot map \xd0\x15X\xbf\xf9\x99J\x19\xb7;P(\xe2(\x98\xfe\xb8"\x07[N_^\xda\xb5\xe9\x8ef\xb0\xe4\x82\xaa\x9dMZ\x9d5G\x04\x8f\x11W\xf8d\x0c\x819\xb1\xc6\x81\xe9n\xc5\xd9 to file
[Thu Dec 23 13:52:50 2010] [error] [client *.*.*.*] Invalid URI in request \xd0\x15X\xbf\xf9\x99J\x19\xb7;P(\xe2(\x98\xfe\xb8"\x07[N_^\xda\xb5\xe9\x8ef\xb0\xe4\x82\xaa\x9dMZ\x9d5G\x04\x8f\x11W\xf8d\x0c\x819\xb1\xc6\x81\xe9n\xc5\xd9

VOIP genius bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34652242)

The Skype system is not decentralized. A couple of things that might be going on.

1. Skype user authentication has to be under ebay's control. Maybe the accounts are geographically distributed, but that's doubtful because it's expensive. This is not where this failure was, but they've had problems previously with this, and it is still a super-centralized.

2. Skype's service is not 100% peer-to-peer. In the rare best case scenario, when the call is established, skype's servers have nothing to do with the call. This is a very rare scenario. The empirical evidence they are managing most calls is the whole supernode architecture. The biggest clue being the conditions for becoming a supernode. Something like supernodes are required to mitigate widespread and varied NATing issues that are a devil to track down and vary depending on the device doing the NATing.

3. In practice, their supernode model is not decentralized. What supernodes appear to do is the NAT helping for calls. Take away the brain and the supernodes don't work. Poof! No skype service.

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