As a sort of addendum to Jason Bennet's post about client expectations from cloud services, I wanted to mention the PlayStation Network. PSN has been down for six days now, the last update mentioning only that Sony doesn't "have an update or timeframe to share at this point in time."
There are differences between Amazon Web Services and PSN, of course, the primary being that AWS is a paid service. However, the initial MSRP of the PlayStation 3 was $600, an extremely high price for a console. One of the features on the box, and a feature that continues to be noted on the home page of the PlayStation, is access to the PlayStation Network. So regardless of the lack of subsciption fee for PlayStation Network, there is a client expectation that they have paid a premium for the physical product with the understanding of 24/7/365 access to the free service.
Unfortunately, Sony's handling of this disaster has only exacerbated the problem. On April 20th, Sony took down the PlayStation Network. Their initial statement said, in toto, "We’re aware certain functions of PlayStation Network are down. We will report back here as soon as we can with more information. Thank you for your patience." The next day they said they were "investigating the cause of the Network outage." The day after that they mentioned an "external intrusion," and said they took down the network themselves, back on the 20th. Many of their customers and game journalists understood "external intrusion" to mean the hacker group "Anonymous" who had recently gone after Sony. After the hacker group vehemently denied responsibility, Sony didn't mention it again. Officials at Sony have said they don't know if customer account data, including credit card numbers, have been compromised. Their blog includes only 3-4 line updates once a day, where they mention things like "Our efforts to resolve this matter involve re-building our system" with no estimated date or time for when something that sounds so monumental might be finished. There has been no explanation as to why this is happening. Rumors have swirled, none of which Sony has directly addressed. Games that depend on PSN for full functionality aren't getting sold. Products available for sale ONLY through PSN are obviously not getting sold either. Many of these titles are the lifeblood of indie game companies.
Compare this to XBox Live troubles 2 years ago after Christmas - Microsoft's Major Nelson stated the exact nature of the cause (Christmas rush led to a huge usage spike), possible work-arounds, estimates, and at the end of it, customers got a free XBox Live Arcade game and 1 month of free service. The whole busines was soon forgotten.
It's highly unlikely that will be the case with Sony. In all, their network disaster has turned into a credibility disaster, and the repercussions are bound to affect not just Sony, but many companies in the PlayStation environment. Sony has blogs, twitter feeds, facebook pages, and none of those are being used to communicate anything meaningful to their customers. The lesson here is a simple one - don't just have a plan for disaster prevention, have a plan for disaster recovery that includes customer communication and marketing. Because day six of the outage of your 24/7/365 network is too late to come up with a plan.
Update: Since I posted this initially, Sony has admitted that user accounts were compromised. Again, this is six days after the initial breach. User IDs, passwords, and credit card information are all at risk.
Tags: Cloud, Disaster Recovery, Infrastructure, PlayStation Network
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