Microsoft: Most Lost Sidekick Data Almost Restored

Old-fashioned folks would call it closing the barn after the horse has bolted. Young people are going to call it “whatever.” I just call it too little, too late. Microsoft (s MSFT) says it has restored recovered most, if not all, of the data of the Sidekick-using customers of T-Mobile. Last Friday a data wipeout left thousands of Sidekick users without any access to their data that was stored in Microsoft’s data centers.

In a statement, Roz Ho, corporate VP of premium mobile experiences at Microsoft, said that company is about to start restoring people’s personal data, starting with personal contacts. Why is it too little, too late? There has been an exodus of customers away from the Danger’s Sidekick device and many class action lawsuits have been filed against Microsoft. I believe Microsoft’s $500 million purchase of Danger has gone up in smoke.

We are pleased to report that we have recovered most, if not all, customer data for those Sidekick customers whose data was affected by the recent outage. We plan to begin restoring users’ personal data as soon as possible, starting with personal contacts, after we have validated the data and our restoration plan. We will then continue to work around the clock to restore data to all affected users, including calendar, notes, tasks, photographs and high scores, as quickly as possible.

Ho assured the customers that the company is working hard to build a more resilient service.

We have determined that the outage was caused by a system failure that created data loss in the core database and the back-up. We rebuilt the system component by component, recovering data along the way. This careful process has taken a significant amount of time, but was necessary to preserve the integrity of the data. We will continue working closely with T-Mobile to restore user data as quickly as possible.

We are eager to deliver the level of reliable service that our incredibly loyal customers have become accustomed to, and we are taking immediate steps to help ensure this does not happen again. Specifically, we have made changes to improve the overall stability of the Sidekick service and initiated a more resilient backup process to ensure that the integrity of our database backups is maintained. [Microsoft press release.]

The Sidekick snafu is said to be the result of some corporate infighting at Microsoft. A damning report on Apple Insider reveals the fractious nature of Microsoft’s mobile efforts.

To the engineers familiar with Microsoft’s internal operations who spoke with us, that suggests two possible scenarios. First, that Microsoft decided to suddenly replace Danger’s existing infrastructure with its own, and simply failed to carry this out. Danger’s existing system to support Sidekick users was built using an Oracle Real Application Cluster, storing its data in a SAN (storage area network) so that the information would be available to a cluster of high availability servers. This approach is expressly designed to be resilient to hardware failure.

Striving to rid the company of foreign technology and “eat one’s own dog food” instead is so common that Microsoft’s employees are said to commonly use the word “dogfooding” as a verb to describe this.

Danger’s Sidekick data center had “been running on autopilot for some time, so I don’t understand why they would be spending any time upgrading stuff unless there was a hardware failure of some kind,” wrote the insider. Given Microsoft’s penchant for “for running the latest and greatest,” however, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they found out that [storage vendor] EMC had some new SAN firmware and they just had to put it on the main production servers right away.” (Click here to go to the complete and most excellent story on Apple Insider)