Last week was not a good week for T-Mobile Sidekick owners, and now it seems things have probably gone from bad to worse. It was reported that Danger Sidekick devices lost data services, meaning that users lost access to address books, calendars and basically any other information that was stored via the Microsoft cloud.
Danger might be a good name for the Microsoft owned service, but users probably had no idea their data and information was actually in danger. Over the weekend T-Mobile and Danger issued a statement saying data that is “no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger.” The companies further said that they’d “work around-the-clock” to try to find a way to recover the information, but that it was unlikely that it would be successful.
What makes this especially troubling is that Danger might not have followed the usual Microsoft procedures to have redundant servers store the data, and instead only a single server was used. Ironically, Danger had claimed its server-based model was better than the competitors systems. And now both T-Mobile and Danger are stressing that users should keep the devices well charged and not remove the battery for fear that any information stored on the Sidekick’s memory could be lost.
For their trouble customers have been promised a month of free data service, with greater compensation possibly to be announced soon.
Of course, the bigger issue is what this means for cloud computing? Not to belittle the situation at all, but the Sidekick is really more of a social device than a serious work handset. As feature phones go the Sidekick line has always been fantastic, but let’s face it, it’s not a smartphone; and if data can be lost so easily and to a point that it isn’t recoverable can you really trust this level of cloud computing with a BlackBerry or other business-focused devices?
The argument would be made that cloud computing still offers the advantage of protecting data and allowing for greater access. Consider that it is easy to lose, break or otherwise damage a single handset. If a document or other important information is there, it could be lost. If the same data were accessed via cloud computing, a lost handset wouldn’t be that big of a deal – unless of course you enter the danger zone as we’ve seen. In this case, it isn’t a personal disaster it is catastrophic.
But in fairness, the Danger situation is one that never should have happened, simply because the company relied on a single server without redundancy. That in truth is a disaster waiting to happen with catastrophic results. Had the company done due diligence in providing multiple levels of redundancy, this would have been a hiccup instead of a full-blown PR and data disaster. And it is one that lacks any silver lining with very gray clouds.
Of course, the best solution would be one that uses the best of both worlds, where data could be stored on a device and backed up to the clouds.