Oops how embarrassing!

I often stumble upon an interesting blog or website, but am usually reluctant to add it to my favourites.  My favourites is full of clutter from broken links, retired sites, and urls that are quicker just to type in.

What I need is a web service that provides a list of favourite sites, which saves me synchronising my favourites within my Mesh, and also allows me to share links I think are interesting, but not worth blogging about.

Enter Ma.gnolia.com (I have no idea why they write it like that).  Ma.gnolia is, well, let them tell you:

At Ma.gnolia, members save websites as bookmarks, just like in their browser. Except with a twist: they also “tag” them, assigning labels that make them easy to find again. So when you search for something, you use words that people choose and look only at websites that people think are worth saving. Suddenly you have access to a human-organized bookmark collection that numbers in the millions, but is as easy to use as a search engine.

With Ma.gnolia, that’s really all the work you have to do. Finding by tags makes organizing bookmarks a thing of the past. Since it’s a website, your Ma.gnolia bookmark collection can be reached by you and your friends from anywhere, any time. And don’t worry about web pages disappearing from your searches or even the web, as we make a saved copy of each page you bookmark where websites allow us to.

All very interesting, but one of the main reasons to use the service is so that you always have access to your favourites.  Unless they lose them of course.

A couple of days ago, that’s exactly what they did.  And they can’t get them back.  Here’s what they have to say (link):

Dear Ma.gnolia Community Member or Visitor,

Early on the West-coast morning of Friday, January 30th, Ma.gnolia experienced every web service’s worst nightmare: data corruption and loss. For Ma.gnolia, this means that the service is offline and members’ bookmarks are unavailable, both through the website itself and the API. As I evaluate recovery options, I can’t provide a certain timeline or prognosis as to to when or to what degree Ma.gnolia or your bookmarks will return; only that this process will take days, not hours.

I will of course keep you appraised here and in our Twitter account.

Most importantly, I apologize to all of you who have made Ma.gnolia a home for your bookmarks and community. I know that many of you rely on Ma.gnolia in your day to day work and play to safely host you bookmarks, keeping them available around the clock, and that this is a difficult disruption.

Sincerely,
Larry

Oh dear.

I’m especially surprised by the “as I evaluate recovery options” comment.  Surely every business understands their recovery options.  Don’t they?

When online presence is crucial (i.e. your main business function), as it is with web service providers, a fast recovery plan should have been in place.  Replication of the data to a second location, with regular snapshots to protect against data corruption, is such an inexpensive protection strategy nowadays.  Add to that the ease with which service providers can test the recoverability, this failure is a true schoolboy error.

The lesson to be learned for the rest of us, is to take DR plan into your own hands.  Store multiple copies of the data you want to keep.  Fortunately a very helpful blogger, Hutch Carpenter, posted a great idea to make this a simple process.  Store your bookmarks at Diigo, and let Diigo copy them to Del.icio.us.  See his site for a step by step guide.

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New Year. New President. Any new ideas?

Barack gave his inauguration speech today, which was very impressive. Unfortunately, it left me feeling depressed about the state of the global economy, and the bleak future awaiting us over the coming months. I guess it’s because I’m not an American, and am therefore missing that ‘Yeah, we can do anything’ gene that seems to have been handed out as they disembarked the Mayflower. It’s a character trait that the rest of the world is both envious of, and sickened by. Maybe it’s a jealousy thing.

What I do know is that even if Pres. Obama manages to turn the US economy around, it won’t happen overnight. Most of us are already feeling the effects of recession. At best it’s affecting our spending decisions for holidays, new cars, and gadgets, and at worst people are losing their jobs, and their homes.

So he asked for new ideas. Any ideas. It started me thinking about ways in which we should change our behaviour, practices and decision making in my industry, IT. IT has traditionally been one of the driving forces at the helm of the economic boom. The healthy race for technological advances has increasingly made everything smaller, yet more powerful. For most businesses, this technological progression has not gone un-noticed, but it has also failed to deliver any startling benefits. A PC which cost £400 5 years ago would have been a fairly good mid-market model, allowing basic office use. The equivalent PC today still appears to cost around £400, so where are the benefits. OK, so we have nice 19″ LCD displays instead of 17″ CRT monitors, but the PC is still a PC.

The same can be said for server class computers from vendors like HP and IBM. 5 years ago, a company would spend £10,000 on a new database server, and a further £20,000 to licence the software to run on it. Today, the same purchases are being made, with amazingly similar budgets.

The problem is more to do with the way people expect to use the technology. 10 years ago, you needed a separate server for each application you wanted to run. Often that old rule is no longer applicable, and yet IT departments continue to hold on to that model. Those IT teams that have been paying attention to the technology available, have already identified that a quad core CPU (which is becoming common even in PC’s now) is way over-powered for most traditional server tasks. These ‘Adaptive Thinkers’ have been quietly deploying virtualization solutions from firms like VMware and Microsoft. Hypervisor based server platforms that can harness the power of these smaller, faster technology advancements in ways that traditional server environments cannot.

If you haven’t already virtualized your IT systems, you’re behind the times. Unfortunately, if you have virtualized, you’re probably still behind the times too. Virtualization is again re-inventing itself with a service focus though IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). VMware vCloud and Microsoft Azure Cloud platform refocus IT consolidation efforts into the data centre. By providing the environment on a service/rental basis, firms no longer have to look after their own virtualization platforms. This can reduce training costs, support costs, and obviously capital costs.

In the upcoming economic uncertainty, it surely makes sense to take Barack’s advice regarding new ideas, and rethink our approach to traditional computing if we are to survive this approaching storm.

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