Networking

Windows update triggers Skype outage


SkypeFolks, the word is out on the official Skype Heartbeat Blog.

The outage that started on Thursday, August 16, 2007, was "triggered by a massive restart of [Skype users'] computers across the globe within a very short timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches through Windows Update."

It appears that the high number of restarts flooded Skype's network with log-in requests, aggravating the lack of peer-to-peer network resources. Ultimately, a chain reaction started that eventually prompted a "critical impact."

Excerpt from the blog entry:

Normally Skype’s peer-to-peer network has an inbuilt ability to self-heal, however, this event revealed a previously unseen software bug within the network resource allocation algorithm which prevented the self-healing function from working quickly.

Regrettably, as a result of this disruption, Skype was unavailable to the majority of its users for approximately two days.

Additionally:

The issue has now been identified explicitly within Skype. We can confirm categorically that no malicious activities were attributed or that our users’ security was not, at any point, at risk.

The entry went on to point out that though this disruption was unprecedented in its "impact and scope," very few technologies or communications network [for that matter] are guaranteed to operate without interruptions.

So, there you go. Now, it must be the first time that Windows Update has officially managed to bring down a peer-to-peer network, especially one as resilient and well-known as Skype. Perhaps Comcast might do well to take a leaf out from Microsoft's book rather than irritating its BitTorrent users to jump ship.

Anyway, the irony of it all aside, the golden question remains as to the state of users' confidence in Skype. Share with us how do you think the state of confidence in Skype now stands.

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

11 comments
basil_poly
basil_poly

I had many quality problems with Skype before this software problem. These were brown outs and distortion particularly over difficult telephone networks e.g. Greece. I will be discontinuing by subscription to Skpyout as a result.

sundadjaja
sundadjaja

I am still waiting for Skype Outage features from our country.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

A) Why does Windows need to reboot, even after a simple update? B) Why does Skype not queue login requests if they get flooded...WoW can do it, why not Skype?

paulmah
paulmah

Which might explain what the "bug" is about. But then again, it might be kind of tricky to do a test on a "live" load...

raisch
raisch

While I have no special knowledge of Skype's internal design, I'll try to address the larger question by wondering how many people are as sick to death as I am hearing about yet another "critical" online service that failed system-wide because it was never designed to accommodate the needs of its users or anticipate "success." The vast majority of online consumer services today seem to have followed the same time-worn trajectory: 1. first, they are built hastily as a "proof of concept", 2. next, they go online with the barest nod towards reliability and scale-ability, 3. and then from that shaky, poorly designed base, they grow organically over time--acceting like coral reefs--to the point where the merest upset extinguishes the entire service for all. And we wonder why these services fail so often and so spectacularly? I think it's high time we acknowledge that, while it is true that anyone with some cash, an idea and the wherewithal to realize it can build something interesting online, that is not how sustainable, reliable services are built. Yes, I'm talking to you: MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Blogspot, and the plethora of other, online coral-reefs. And for the record, Skype's statement that few communications networks are guaranteed to operate (at their highest levels) without interruption is so patently disingenuous as to be laughable since they conveniently ignore the standout example of a truly reliable, bomb-proof communications network which, not coincidentally, is the very one Skype hopes to supplant: the one providing terrestrial wire-line phone service.

PasserDomesticus
PasserDomesticus

Congratulations. Your firm must be the first in the IT world to produce work without any mistakes whatsoever. It really should be nominated for something like a Nobel prize.

DanLM
DanLM

Is an indication of a lot of systems that are put into production. Meaning, they are pushed through based on a time line. And to hell with what possible problems there might be. Where a thorough end to end system test should be done for all aspects of a system, then stress testing after the first part has passed. I don't see it being done anymore, anywhere. I don't see the type of testing and follow up needed in any deployment anymore. And I'm talking both from personal experience and watching the post's about projects that get pushed into production before they are ready. Dan

Snellgrove
Snellgrove

Its the future... just going to take a little while for Skype to work out the bugs.

LanTell
LanTell

It all goes back to the fact that Microsoft Windows is the root of all evil in the world of IT. Skype should be proud that it talk a giant like Microsoft to bring them down. Microsoft has been brought down by so far a less competitor. I feel Skype is coming out the winner and Microsoft the looser.

paulmah
paulmah

How do you think the state of confidence in Skype now stands?

paulmah
paulmah

How do you think the state of confidence in Skype now stands?