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Obstacles posed by failures in digital infrastructure for businesses

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Obstacles posed by failures in digital infrastructure for businesses


A woman holds a smartphone with the icons of the social media applications Facebook, Instagram and others seen on the screen in Moscow on March 23, 2018. A public apology from Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg on March 22 2018 failed to quell outrage over the hijacking of millions of people’s personal data, as critics demanded that the social media giant go much further to protect privacy. PHOTO | AFP | KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV

Summary

  • The internet shook early last week when Facebook’s top properties disappeared online for several hours.
  • The actual impact and cost of the outage were lost and summarized.
  • We are heading into a future where even our backups will require backups if we are to fully assimilate into a digital existence.

The internet shook early last week when Facebook’s top properties, sponsored by billions of users each month, disappeared online for several hours.

The pedigree of the teams on Facebook is not in doubt. What they have built in-house and continue to contribute to the open source community is a testament to this.

They publish some of the most exciting software engineering content out there.

Directly managing as much of the production stack as possible – from hardware, data centers, and network infrastructure – to control user experience and protect certain economic troughs and intellectual property is smart.

This outage is not the first for this internet giant and it will not be the last.

Most of the online world reveled in colorful memes, jokes about the mass exodus to other platforms, and how much value on paper Mark Zuckerberg poured out.

The actual impact and cost of the outage were lost and summarized. At the F8 Summit earlier this year, where the latest product announcements were made on Facebook technologies for developers and businesses, the focus was on business messaging and tools. Login Connect with Messenger, Facebook Business Extension, Messenger API for Instagram and WhatsApp Business API were the showcase.

In perspective, more than 175 million users communicate with a WhatsApp business account on a daily basis, and 90 percent of the more than 1 billion Instagram users follow at least one business account. On an individual level, the disruption experienced by Facebook may not add up to much.

Summing up the millions of companies that depend on them to facilitate communications and commerce – advertising, storefronts, payments and invoice discounting – the setback was devastating. Had it persisted, the dominoes would have been more visibly poured into the physical world.

There have been calls for a more decentralized digital services landscape. It is challenging to achieve and scale, as consolidation underpins the business models currently adopted.

Should there be a limit to the realized value when intellectual property and capital are used to create a product or service?

The Internet is decentralized in both concept and function, but services are not. Interoperability is also not guaranteed, even with the API specification of everything, multiple protocols and open standards.

What options are available and practical for a resilient and commercially viable digital infrastructure? We are heading into a future where even our backups will require backups if we are to fully assimilate into a digital existence.

Njihia is the Director of Business and Partnerships for Sure Corporation | www.mbuguanjihia.com | @mbuguanjihia

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