Technology outages. Just seeing the phrase written down is enough to give people cause for concern, as there is very little more annoying than attempting to sign-in to your favourite online service to find a blank page or the dreaded 404 error message due to their servers being down.
Regardless of the outage, one thing you can count on is that people will flock to social media websites to complain when a service is down. However, last week this wasn't possible as Twitter itself suffered downtime which saw the site forced offline for hours. Exactly how #TwitterDown was the top trend during this time I don't know, but that's another story for another day.
Managing the fallout following a public IT outage is of paramount importance, especially for a brand which is now an intrinsic part of how we live - from breaking news across the globe to a platform for the latest viral videos, Twitter has it all. This is why it's so important such outages are stopped, as any time they occur people seemingly lose their minds and the news agenda of our national media shifts in line with this. In short, Twitter must learn from its mistakes. After all, fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Fool us a third time, we'll start trying to remember our Myspace log-in details.
As with any service people sign-up for, we deserve to know we can access it around the clock without the possibility of being locked out at a moment's notice. Although the repercussions aren't as disastrous as have been seen with widespread banking outages, if they persist it will only be a matter of time before its popularity nosedives. Simply tweeting an apology isn't enough; Twitter needs to ensure IT failures stop before brand loyalty dies.
Saving social media
Although there were many instances of Twitter outages in the early days and the "fail whale" became a norm for a while during peak times, Twitter hasn't suffered downtime in quite some time. However, social media at large has suffered, with the likes of Facebook and Instagram suffering outages previously. Due to the popularity of these sites, they use reputable data centres to minimise the risks associated with hosting vast amounts of public data. However, when outages like these occur data centres can't prevent the downtime - instead they act to ensure the potential harm is minimal and glitches are resolved swiftly.
How does this work, I hear you ask. High quality data centres have systems in place to ensure back-ups automatically kick in when an outage occurs so any services relying on this data don't suffer any downtime. With the vast range of connections and structures which combine within data centres, providers are continuously asking "what will happen if this element fails?" to ensure consumers can continue shopping online or setting up direct debits without interruption.
It's this responsibility which makes data centres the unsung hero of the technology world. So the next time you're venting your frustrations at your favourite sporting team's latest loss in 140 characters or less, take a moment to think of the data centre behind it all.