Outages: some explain, some apologise

Monday 2nd May 2011
Courtesy:fullvideo.webpont.com and http://www.socialsignal.com/blog/rob-cottingham

Apple whose iSeries equipment has been tracking owners' movements, and Amazon, Verizon and Sony, whose online customers all suffered from service outages in the last week of April, took from a day, to more than a week and into May to get systems partially or fully recovered. All suffered big company explanation inertia for service outage and crashes and were even slower in offering apologies. In Apple's case apparently none was needed.

Like Amazon and Sony's outage and security fixes, Apple took its time before denying reports that it has installed  a tracking device on its iPhones to know the locations of users.

CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement published on the Wall Street Journal, that what the iPhones do is “maintain a database of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers to 'help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.” [That's for advertising purposes!]

Apple said the location data the researchers were seeing on the iPhone is “not the past or present location of the iPhone, but rather the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding the iPhone's location, which can be more than one hundred miles away from the iPhone.”

So why not tell the researchers that when they queried the app?

Apple also said it planned to reduce the amount of time the Wi-Fi and cell tower data is stored on the iPhone from as much as a year to seven days. “The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly,” Apple said. “We don't think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data.”

Apple said it was using location data to help target advertising, but was not sharing it with third parties unless it has explicit user approval. [Watch the small print]

Sony does apologise
Sony took from the April 19 to April 26 to post an Update on Play Station Network "We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network.

The Sony hackers, have accessed names, addresses, emails, date of birth, password and login, handle/PSN and online ID of some 70m people. Ethical hackers (testers) says that PSN Gmail addresses are reported compromised.

Judging from the site games playing will take a further week at least before it may be partially useable. It has taken until May 2 for Sony executives to apologise for the security breach of some of its 77m customers connected to its PlayStation Network and vowed to put up more firewalls to avoid similar future incidents.

“We deeply apologize for the inconvenience we have caused,” said Kazuo Hirai, chief of Sony Corp's PlayStation video game unit, who was among three executives to apologise.

Hirai stated parts of the service will be operational this week and urged consumers to change passwords as they are now are certain that acquired account information, including names, birth dates, email addresses and log-in information was compromised for players.

He reiterated that  it had no direct evidence the data was taken, data from 10m credit cards are believed to be involved. Regulators are now preparing for possible sanctions on Sony for its security breach exposing customers to credit card theft.

The US. Federal Bureau of Investigation is also helping in the investigation of the group of hackers, known as Anonymous, who are also after the systems of Google Inc, Walt Disney Co, and Johnson & Johnson.

Amazon: money where mouth is
Amazon's apology takes the form of a 10 day credit for Web services and storage and it also posted a lengthy explanation of what caused the problem on its Web site.

Amazon also did release details on the outage which has affected its cloud computing platforms recently.  And it also acknowledged that a small fraction of the systems, some 0.07% of volumes stored in its Eastern US region, "would not be fully recoverable".

"The vast majority of affected volumes have now been recovered. We're in the process of contacting a limited number of customers who have EBS volumes that have not yet recovered, and will continue to work hard on restoring these remaining volumes," the company said.

The outage left many of Amazon's client web services crippled or inaccessible for a period of several days, but the firm said that its EC2 and EBS services in northern Virginia are now functioning normally.

The company was been heavily criticised for its failure to communicate with customers and warn of the possible repercussions.

Verizon LTE also stumbled
Reuters reported last week, that Verizon Wireless was scrambling on Wednesday to resolve an outage of its highest-speed US wireless network.

Verizon Communications and Vodafone used Twitter feed to note its newest network -  Long Term Evolution (LTE) base high-speed data technology - suffered an outage that held up data-transfer flows on some devices.

While voice calls were working on Thunderbolt, an HTC Corp device that is Verizon's first LTE-enabled phone, data speeds on that phone may slow. It also said that customers were temporarily unable to activate any LTE devices.

By late afternoon that it had discovered the outage cause and  working with vendors to "restore connections," expecting to fix the problems on a "market-by-market basis."

On Thursday "4G LTE up and running. Thank you for your patience" read the Twitter feed. But Verizon did not identify its cause of outage.

Verizon is banking on LTE for its next phase of growth  now most of the US population ownes cellphones. LTE services started in some markets late in 2010, and is now expanding the network in an intensely competitive market where AT&T Inc buying Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile for $39bn, is leapfrogging Verizon in the US to create a new industry leader.

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