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January 19th, 2008

37 Signals It's a Bad Friday

Today was moving day so I was all over the place trying to coordinate network installers, furniture installers as well as Verizon finishing the point to point connection between our two locations (think herding cats). I was able to take free moments and catch up on e-mails/IMs that I had missed and one in particular was from a client trying to upload something to our Basecamp site (OK, so the client was also my sister Alyson).

She said she was getting an error when trying to upload a file which I instantly thought was strange, so I went to check it out. Imagine my surprise when visiting our Basecamp site and seeing this…

Basecamp is Down

Hm, so I guess there is a problem. Well, it was no biggie, we could wait. Here are a few observations on this, though:

  • Working in Web development over the years I completely understand the “oh crap” feeling you get when something goes down. That feeling is only compounded by the potential number of people affected by the outage. I’m sure this was beyond “oh crap” and well on it’s way to “holy shit.”
  • 37signals (makers of Basecamp) did a great job of keeping us updated on the situation. Updates were posted regularly, with my favorite definitely being the one coming somewhere near hour two that said “This is not how Fridays are supposed to be.
  • They make sure to point out that your data is just fine.
  • This sort of thing just doesn’t happen a lot with Basecamp (or ever that I can remember). We’ve been using it for project management for 2+ years now and I can’t remember this happening before. I can forgive a little down time every now and then.
  • They fessed up. Very admirable. They’ve also offered to make things right if anyone feels they did not receive the level of service they expect. There is no service level agreement with Basecamp, so that makes their concern in this situation that much more sincere.

These situations are never 100% avoidable. With so many stakeholders involved in their service there are quite a few things that could cause an outage, it’s just nice to see it handled so well. I’m putting together a little Ta-da List in case I need to refer back to how to handle this type of situation.

About the Author
Nick Gernert leads the Platform Services team that's part of Voce Connect and oversees all web development efforts as well as making sure all those efforts are strategically sound. He is on Twitter as @nickgernert.

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