Did you know that
. suffered another outage earlier this month, its second in
two weeks? Some were so upset at not having their status updates
that they called the L.A. sheriff. Really:
Yes we got calls
That is why I sent out my previous msg to prevent them. Unk number
received on 911 or reg number TY
- Sgt. Brink (@LASDBrink)
August 1, 2014
Forget for a moment that this is manna from heaven for every
late-night talk show host. For investors, it also illustrates that
Facebook has become an essential part of our lives. More frequent
outages suggest the social network is having trouble bearing that
Is Facebook faltering under pressure?
In June, the site went down worldwide for roughly 30 minutes. In
a statement to TechCrunch
, Facebook explained that users began to have problems accessing
the site after the tech team updated the configuration of one of
its software systems.
"This doesn't happen often, but when it does we make sure we
learn from the experience so we can make Facebook that much more
reliable," Facebook added. And I'd buy that, except that the
last two outages were 12 days apart (i.e., June 19 and Aug. 1).
The latest outage lasted just 19 minutes, but it also appeared
to affect the entire network of over one billion people who use
Facebook around the world. Isn't that at least a little troubling?
Modern networks are designed for redundancy, and generally,
Facebook is quite good at isolating problems. For example:
In December 2012, the site went down for a short while in
the wake of a Gmail outage, but only a portion of Facebook's
user base was affected. A spokesman would later say that an
update to the "DNA infrastructure" of the site kept it offline
for some users.
In August 2011, Facebook began experimenting with changes to
its chat and news feed, kicking off complaints of log-in errors
and other problems. Performance also suffered for some users,
for apparently unrelated reasons.
Fortunately, these problems didn't last long or affect the
worldwide base of Facebook users. Now, global outages are back. We
can't be sure why they're happening. My personal theory is that the
underlying system is changing to create touchpoints for acquired
technologies while supporting a wider base of users.
In Q2, Facebook reported 1.32 billion monthly active users,
versus 1.15 billion in last year's second quarter. Mixing in
WhatsApp adds another
, while charity efforts with Internet.org could
add even more users
in areas where Web access is a new phenomenon. Give it a few years,
and we may be able to call Facebook "Earth's Largest Network."
Outages are par for the course on the Internet
Should investors be concerned with how Facebook is handling
growth? I wouldn't be. Outages occur all the time on the Internet,
and they rarely last more than a few minutes.
What's more, even huge outages have done little to forestall
growth at the Web's biggest operators. Let's review two
went down for 30-40 minutes, costing the site an estimated
$3 to $4 million
in lost sales. Only a few months earlier, on Christmas Eve
2012, a problem in its Amazon Web Services infrastructure
affected millions of
customers, many of whom were
unable to log in
for at least seven hours. The impact on the business?
Negligible. Amazon reported a 23% year-over-year increase in
second-quarter revenue as the company grows to dominate
virtually every niche in which it participates.
In August 2008,
three significant outages
in Gmail and its other online productivity software. In
February 2009, the desktop version of Gmail went offline again
-- this time, for about two and a half hours. And in the years
since? An estimated 50 million business users have
not only Gmail but also Google Apps for Business.
Facebook is playing to win the long game
Outages always seem more problematic than they really are. Here,
it may be instructive to return to what founder and CEO Mark
Zuckerberg wrote in the S-1 filing ahead of Facebook's troubled
"There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in
the world connected, to give everyone a voice, and to help
transform society for the future. The scale of the technology and
infrastructure that must be built is unprecedented, and we believe
this is the most important problem we can focus on."
Encouraging words for investors, I think. This a long game that
Facebook is playing to win. A few errors and outages along the way
are to be expected.
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Facebook Outages Show it Is Burdened With Becoming
the Earth's Biggest Network
originally appeared on Fool.com.
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