October 12, 2009, 11:53 AM — By now, you probably heard about poor Sidekick users who have lost their contacts, calendar entries, and other information due to a massive fail by T-Mobile's Sidekick division and the Microsoft subsidiary providing data services. People who hate “the cloud” or those selling local disk storage (often the same people) are cheering the loss because it seems to bolster their complaints about Software As A Service not being trustworthy. But a little digging shows the blame sits squarely on management stupidity, where you can usually find the root of all business problems.
First, Sidekick users who don't sync their data to their own PC were walking a tightrope. They fell, or rolled snake-eyes, or whatever you want to say to people who lost data because they didn't back up. But you can't really blame Sidekick users too much, because the sync process is painful and tedious, and the users understandably trusted their provider to follow proper data management practices.
Oops. Turns out Sidekick and T-Mobile trusted Danger, the provider now owned by Microsoft, to know how to handle data safely. You know, backup data on a regular basis. If not, at least backup data before upgrading the storage system holding all user information. Even the lowest level IT tech knows to backup a disk before upgrading that disk, because things often go wrong. When you have a backup, a mistake is an annoyance. When you don't, the mistake becomes news.
Every IT tech knows that running a system with a single point of failure will always bite you in the butt. Holding all the user data on one storage system is a single point of failure. Not having a backup for a service you're charging customers a monthly fee is darn near criminally negligent.
Is “the cloud” to blame for this mess? No. Danger, the provider owned by Microsoft, gets the blame. The techs working on the storage system without verifying a good backup are to blame. T-Mobile, banking all the money from all their Sidekick subscribers each month, is to blame. The cloud and SaaS are blameless, let down by poor management.
As always, management stupidity is to blame. As always, managers will escape to screw up again, and a few low-level IT techs will be fired so the company can say they took action. That's when you really see corporate management kick into high gear: when they blame someone else for their own stupidity.