DailyPost 1843

There is an old adage which says, if you can’t face the world Facebook and that tool went missing in the biggest outage in its history. Whether the world would have been a better place without these social media tools we leave it for another day, the reality was that large part of its  started feeling orphaned. The WhatsApp world came to a standstill and people were onto their technical wizardry to get their services back but that was not to happen. We have got so used to its eternal availability that we were not ready to believe that the issue was with Facebook and not us. If reliability provides the ultimate trust in business then this is the epitome; second to second messaging and the whole communication package which it supports now.

How important it is to our existence is clear from the fact that it kept on making international headlines. The internet was abuzz only with this news till the time it came back to life; it led to a loss of $5-6 billion dollars to Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, its owner and founder, came down a few slots in the list of the wealthiest persons in the world. The value of a non-essential service can be gauged from that fact, that this communication tool made waves as never ever in the history of mankind. The six hours outage caught the world’s attention, as if world had come to a standstill. Digital empires are here to rule the world, and they are already being valued more than governments or nations. What we believe as a failsafe network created by this IT behemoth, certainly has some chinks in the armour.

In simple terms Facebook and with-it WhatsApp and Instagram went out of the internet space for those many hours. How did it happen is the trillion dollar question? As per Facebook, a configuration error broke its connection to a key network backbone, which disconnected all the data centers from the internet. This in turn left the Domain Name System servers unreachable. The precarious nature of our digital world with all its technical wizardry, can be gauged from the fact that a single errant command took down these web services, used 24/7/365 by more than 7 billion accounts worldwide. Early external analyses focused on the DNS servers and the changes in the network route in the Border Gateway Protocol, visible from internet records, turned out to be secondary issues triggered by Facebook’s backbone outage.

A command to assess the availability of global backbone capacity had unintentionally taken down all connections in the backbone network. It is said that the errant command would normally be caught by an auditing tool, but ”but a bug in that audit tool didn’t properly stop the command.” One thing has been proven for sure that Facebook has the capacity to handle its worst ever outage in a reasonably short period of time. Finally, expertise is the winner. Creating a failsafe system has been the burning desire of the digital world and we keep inching closer to it. These are minor hiccups in creating a world, where everything is available 24/7 with a single touch.


Sanjay Sahay

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