Friday Night, I’m going nowhere
All the lights are changing green to red.
~David Gray, Babylon
Imagine you were working at YouTube yesterday in IT monitoring the state of the network and suddenly the lights were as David Gray sang, changing from green to red. All hands on deck, it’s an emergency.
That’s what happened yesterday afternoon when YouTube suddenly inexplicably stopped playing videos for some users. For others, there was just a delay. As you can imagine, a hue and cry went up on the social web and YouTube to its credit responded.
First of all, it acknowledged there was a problem. Too often IT and commercial services circle the wagons when something goes wrong. Your users aren’t stupid and when you’re a commercial platform like YouTube, word is going to spread pretty fast in the age of social media. You might not have to deal with quite the public outrage, but chances are your internal social channels will be lighting up too.
Secondly, Google communicated with its audience where they live on the social networks. They were open about the problem and they announced when it was fixed. You should do the same inside your organization. Use your internal communication channels — whatever they may be — to let your users know you’re aware of the problem and you are doing everything you can to fix it.
And when the situation is resolved, give the all clear so everyone knows the application is working again.
As a major commercial service owned by Google, YouTube is always going to hear it when the service is not functioning properly, but in many ways so are you, just not on the same scale or quite so publicly.
When your applications are experiencing issues, your monitoring tools should tell that too, but the hard part is doing what YouTube engineers did yesterday and that’s not panicking or finger pointing, but getting down to work and resolving the problem quickly.
An hour may seem like an eternity to some users, but everyone knows no matter how you package and deliver your application or service, there are going to be times when it goes down.