Skype: Patch Tuesday Led to
Skype said its outage last week was actually the result of a
massive number of its users' machines rebooting nearly
simultaneously after downloading a Microsoft Windows security
patch. The peer-to-peer network saw a spike in reboots while at
the same time fewer of its users' computers were online to
handle the higher traffic. Additionally, a bug in Skype's
self-healing capability contributed to the outage.
Skype said that a Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Latest News about
Microsoft patch downloaded on Patch Tuesday triggered a bug in
its software that eventually resulted in the IP (Internet
Protocol)-based service going dark for nearly two days.
The disruption in the free, peer-to-peer (P2P) network began
unexpectedly on Thursday. Service was completely restored by
The system Manage remotely with one interface -- the HP ProLiant
DL360 G5 server. went down because of "a massive restart of our
users' computers across the globe within a very short time frame
as they rebooted after receiving a routine set of patches
through Windows Make the Mac a 1st Class Citizen in a Windows
Shop Update," said Skype.
Skype was unable to handle the large number of users
simultaneously coming back online after their machines rebooted
-- a problem that was exacerbated by fewer systems available to
However, while the blackout was triggered by the Microsoft
patch, the problem originated by a previously unseen software
bug within the network, the company said. This bug prevented the
network from coming back online as it was designed to do in such
"Normally Skype's peer-to-peer network has an inbuilt ability to
self-heal; however, this event revealed a previously unseen
software bug within the network resource allocation algorithm
which prevented the self-healing function from working quickly,"
the company said.
Such an event was unprecedented for Skype, according to Jon
Arnold, principal of J Arnold & Associates. Ultimately, he told
TechNewsWorld, it caused no permanent damage to users, except
The company will likely not suffer any long-term ramifications,
he added. "I think in few days or weeks this will be entirely
However, the incident may well cause Skype or, more likely,
potential business users to rethink the service -- unless
changes, or at the very least a more comprehensive explanation,
"The trade-off when a service is free is that you accept such
glitches in good spirits," Arnold said. "Consumers, after all,
have other ways to communicate."
A Wake-Up Call
However, if Skype is going to market itself to business, users
will expect a higher level of service. "It is a more demanding
environment, of course, and as the stakes get higher, Skype may
have to reevaluate its architecture, engineering and systems."
Skype is hardly the only P2P telephony option in the market,
Arnold noted. It differentiates itself from other vendors in the
network by its super node-based architecture. "It may be that
Skype will want to look at its distributed computing environment
after this event," Arnold speculated.
--By Erika Morphy
08/20/07 11:52 AM PT