In recompense for the outage experienced Dec. 22-23 , Skype gave a detailed explanation for the cause of the failure, and offered users a $1 voucher.
The failure, according to the blog post, was a result of the newest version of Skype for Windows (version 188.8.131.52) becoming overloaded. The crashes caused 40 percent of those using said version of Skype–which accounts for 50 percent of the users–to crash. That was only the beginning. While the Skype team responded to the crash, components of the P2P network on which Skype operates called supernodes had to be powered up again.
“A supernode is important to the P2P network because it takes on additional responsibilities compared to regular nodes, acting like a directory, supporting other Skype clients, helping to establish connections between them and creating local clusters typically of several hundred peer nodes per each supernode,” according to the post.
Since these supernodes took a while to become available, the P2P network was operating with 25–30% fewer supernodes than normal. This reverberated throughout the network, causing the crash to become more widespread because the remaining supernodes failed under the increased burden. They tried to pick up the slack, but could not.
Today, the company sent out an email to affected customers which included the $1 voucher.
“As a valued customer of Skype, we would like to offer you a sincere apology and offer you our gratitude with a credit voucher worth a call of more than 30 minutes to a landline in some of our most popular countries, such as USA, UK, Germany, China, Japan. Or spend it however you like on Skype,” read the email signed by Skype CEO Tony Bates.
While $1 dollar does amount to a free 30 minute call, it’s doubtful that the amount will do much to restore peoples’ trust in the system. Many professionals use Skype for conferencing, business communication, and the like. An entire 24 hour outage for a business that relies on Skype daily is disconcerting. Framed thusly, a $1 voucher is laughable. Also, you have to question the common sense behind the offering. Does anyone really care about $1? It’s a small amount to the individual, but taken at volume for the company, it could quickly add up.