Skype failed yesterday, and this morning, almost 24 hours after people first started complaining about not being able to log on, the VoIP provider disclosed that more than 10 million people were back online. Though Skype has over half-a-billion members, it recently said that at any given time, about 25 million people are concurrently connected to the network.
We’re checking with Skype for more details, but for those wondering what went wrong here, Dan York, the director of conversations at Voxeo, has some coherent analysis here. Essentially, he explains Skype’s supernode architecture, whereby Skype user’s computers connect to these supernodes running Skype’s software, and said that a problem could have knocked a lot of them offline, which shrinks the pool of resources on which Skype can run. He explains further:
My guess would be that there might also have been “cascading failures” in this scenario. If there was, say, a software update affecting some supernodes, as those supernodes dropped offline, the increased load of Skype clients trying to connect to online supernodes might have caused some of them to then drop offline. Or when a supernode came back online, it may have been overwhelmed by the quantity of connection requests and soon failed again. As I said, that’s purely a guess… but you could see those kind of failures happening in a situation like this.
The only thing most of us care about is: When will we be back online? Skype doesn’t know, but many of the GigaOM staff are back up, and reports of more Skype connections coming online are popping up on Twitter. We’ve reached out to Skype and will update the story when we hear back. The company says it will be releasing status updates shortly.
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