We have been reminded several times lately that Web 2.0 is in no way a synonym for "reliable." Major services have crashed. Big product launches have fizzled. Users have raised their collective fists in the air. What's going on? Is the Web crumbling? Well, no, it's not. But users' expectations are rising, and Web companies often get themselves into trouble by promising far more than they can deliver.
Here's the timeline of offline:
Amazon S3 (Also: Google App Engine) When: February 15 (Amazon); June 17 (Google)
What happened: These massive infrastructure services, Amazon's S3 especially, underpin many Web 2.0 companies. When these services fail, big sites go down. When the sites go down, they lose money.
Corporate coping behavior: Amazon CTO Werner Vogels banished to the lecture circuit to explain why S3 is still more reliable than any servers you could run yourself.
The damage: Companies forced to re-consider their reliance on "cloud computing."
Twitter When: April, May, June. July too? Who cares?
What happened: Twitter began to get unreliable. It's up, then it's down. Repeat.
Corporate coping behavior: During the bad spells, Twitter turns off key features of the service -- like access from Twitter helper apps, or the "replies" tab on the site -- to decrease the load. Twitter also buys the search engine Summize, which adds a new level of utility to the service.
The damage: Twitter was becoming part of the social fabric of the technology community. When it began to get flakey, marquee users abandoned the service and fled to rivals like Friendfeed. The problems appear to have been resolved, but the damage may never be repaired.
Firefox When: June 17
What happened: Mozilla announced the release data of the Firefox 3.0 and its goal to get a million downloads on that day. When the day comes, the download doesn't work. The downloads start up later, and Mozilla goes on not just to meet its download goal but utterly crush it.
Corporate coping behavior: Mozilla changes "Download Day" to "The 24-hour Period that Starts When We Say it Does."
The damage: Temporary embarrassment, which is overshadowed by insane success.
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