Recently, a lot of popular websites seem to be having long planned and unplanned downtimes.
Google's Blogger has been taking many planned and unplanned outages over the last few weeks. Yahoo My Web just announced they're going down "for a few hours." Salesforce.com just had multiple outages, including one that lasted almost a day. Gap decided to close Gap.com, OldNavy.com, and BananaRepublic.com for over two weeks. Bloglines took an outage instead of trying to switch to a new data center without any interruption of service. Technorati did something similar a year ago, but took a longer weekend outage for the move. And there are many, many other examples.
Back in the late 1990s at Amazon, I remember we used to think of any downtime as unacceptable. Code was always written to do a smooth migration, old and new boxes interoperating to keep operations seamless. If downtime was taken, it was very early in the morning and short, minimizing the impact to a spattering of insomniacs and international users.
Lately, this view seems downright quaint. Sites are taken down casually for long periods of time. The Gap.com example seems particularly egregious.
Perhaps this is part of a general decline in quality of service. When you outsource customer service to someone who cares even less than you do, when you treat customers with neglect that borders on hostility, perhaps taking downtime is just part of the package.
It is true that customers seem to have grown to accept these outages as the norm. But maybe we should demand more from web companies.
See also Om Malik's post, "The Web 2.0 hit by outages".
See also Nicholas Carr's post, "Salesforce.com's hiccups".
See also my earlier post, "The folly of ignoring scaling".