The Impact of Internet Access (or the lack thereof) On Your Business

Lessons Learned from Last Week’s GoDaddy Outage

Last Monday, our DNS provider, GoDaddy, experienced a widespread service disruption. This service disruption lasted approximately 4 hours and prevented over 50 million web sites, including SmartVault, from being accessible via name lookup. Although, at no time were SmartVault servers unavailable, most of our customers could not access SmartVault during that time.

As soon as we learned of the service disruption, we took steps to notify all of our account owners and administrators via email. We also reached out to all SmartVault users and followers through social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to keep everyone posted about what was going on. In the past few years, the use of social media to communicate with customers has really had a profoundly positive impact on a business’ ability to reach its customers and impart critical information. I would encourage every one of our customers to follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SmartVault and Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SmartVaultCorporation. These channels give us the ability to communicate in nearly real-time, and while our customer care team took many calls that day from customers – social media gave us the ability to reach thousands with updates as we were tracking GoDaddy’s progress on restoring service. We’re seeing more and more service providers adopt this as technique to communicate with their customers.

SmartVault is in the business of providing a service to our customers. Our service has dependencies on other service providers, just like your business depends on SmartVault, your email client, and probably several other services and applications. For any online provider there is a dependency on Internet access and connectivity. And you should be aware of the service level agreements (SLAs) that your providers adhere to. For SmartVault, our service level agreement to our customers is 99.9% – meaning you should never experience more than 8 hours of service disruption in one year. Since SmartVault launched in 2008, we have consistently out-performed our availability time, which we are very proud of. We speak often of having to earn our customer’s business every month, so high availability of the service is mission critical to our team.

After an incident such as this, we review the problem using a systematic approach. First, we want to understand the root cause of the incident, what steps could we have taken to mitigate the issue, and finally will review our response to the incident – including communication. We use this process to continually improve the reliability of our operations. Once our team has had the chance to evaluate and make recommendations, we’ll put those plans in place.

As I reflect on our own ability to handle last week’s outage, I was incredibly proud of our team for their quick and ongoing communication to customers (that has to be a priority, no matter what your business) and the tireless efforts on the phone to provide a workaround for customers that needed access to the service immediately. It’s easy to judge your team when everything goes right, but in the face of adversity, it’s also very satisfying to see the company coming together in crisis to do everything they can to minimize impact on our customers.

As always, I welcome your feedback. Comment below, or shoot me an email at webb(at)smartvault.com.

Michael Webb, Chief Technology Officer – SmartVault Corporation