The T-Mobile-Microsoft Sidekick data disaster: Poor IT management going mainstream

Summary:If you're a T-Mobile Sidekick user who put data, contacts and other items in the cloud we have some bad news for you: Your data is gone...probably forever.

If you're a T-Mobile Sidekick user who put data, contacts and other items in the cloud we have some bad news for you: Your data is gone...probably forever. With cloud computing increasingly reaching the masses the average consumer will soon be enmeshed in the world of poor IT management. Welcome on board the IT failure express.

T-Mobile depended on Microsoft's Danger unit to provide data services. Danger's servers blew and apparently there weren't backups. Oops. T-Mobile's forums reveal (Techmeme):

Regrettably, based on Microsoft/Danger's latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device - such as contacts, calendar entries, to-do lists or photos - that is no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger. That said, our teams continue to work around-the-clock in hopes of discovering some way to recover this information. However, the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low.

T-Mobile then sends you to an FAQ so you can rebuild your contacts. In a nutshell, Microsoft/Danger can't recover your data. Granted, it's only photos, contacts and the rest of your life, but it could have been worse I suppose. Here are a few observations from this debacle:

  • Poor IT management is going mainstream. As we rely on the cloud more there will become a day when everyone will have some basic knowledge of IT management. Rest assured, Sidekick customers will know you're supposed to back up your servers better. Gmail customers may learn a bit about scalability. And TD Bank customers certainly know that you can't merge systems without a fallback plan if things go awry.
  • Cloud is nice. Hybrid may be better. A local backup of data is a necessary backup to the cloud. After all, photos, contacts and other items could be summed up in two words: Your life. T-Mobile's hybrid approach: Don't reset your phone.
  • These IT snafus will become more public. In many cases, IT failures happen behind the scenes. IT failures usually ding a company's financial results or operations and there's a good bit of finger pointing (the consultant, vendor, customer loop). Customer facing applications usually don't blow up in such spectacular fashion. Today, all applications are becoming customer facing.
  • Corporate reputations will be partially be based on IT management skills. The number of IT failures and a company's reaction to IT screwups will feed into a corporation's reputation.

IT failures make our little world go around---Michael Krigsman (our IT Mr. Sunshine) even has a blog dedicated to them---and now you're on the IT failure express too. Welcome.

Topics: CXO, Mobility

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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