Skype Outage Highlights Value Of DNS, Risks Of Proprietary Identities

Aug 17th, 2007 | By | Category: General, Podcasting Services, Podcasting Software

The ongoing outage of the popular voice over IP application Skype highlights the risk of building a utility service like voice communication on a proprietary identity system. By creating a single point of failure, Skype effectively designed into their system an outage that is now affecting hundreds of millions of people.

Skype apologizes for the outage, but not for the fact that the outage was designed into their system:

Apologies for the delay, but we can now update you on the Skype sign-on issue. As we continue to work hard at resolving the problem, we wanted to dispel some of the concerns that you may have. The Skype system has not crashed or been victim of a cyber attack. We love our customers too much to let that happen. This problem occurred because of a deficiency in an algorithm within Skype networking software. This controls the interaction between the user’s own Skype client and the rest of the Skype network.

Compare Skype’s problems with the relative reliability of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). DNS serves as the phone book for the Internet. It has a long history of being attacked because of its critical nature. Nevertheless, the redundant, distributed design of the DNS has allowed they system to provide remarkable reliability.

We use Skype regularly for recording interviews; this outage will have us looking for an alternative that isn’t dependent on a centralized, proprietary identity system.

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