Sunday, November 23, 2008

Transparency case study, courtesy of ylastic

ylastic (a company that provides tools to help manage AWS services) kept their users in the loop during an outage by communicating status updates over Twitter:

You can find the entire set of updates at ylastic's twitter page.

I keep coming back to the same question. Do your users know where to go during a downtime event? ylastic has their web site, their blog, their forums, and their twitter feed. As a user, how do I know where to look when I'm having a problem and want to know what's going on with the service (which is generally an emergency)? As the company, how do I keep users from clogging my support email box in spite of my efforts to get status updates out to the world? In this case it looks like the only place that had any information was the twitter feed. If users weren't aware it existed, both sides would be out of luck.

What every SaaS service needs is a clear central place, that their users can easily find, that provides real time updates on downtime or performance events. It's great that you're willing to communicate during the event, but if no one can find those updates, what's the point? Don't get me started on falling trees.

On another note, kudos to ylastic for their transparency on the following fronts:
  • Providing insight into their product roadmap. Very much what SaaS providers must do to build the trust relationship with their users (which is critical to the success of any online hosted application).
  • Their upcoming iPhone app that among other things gives you the AWS Service Health status on the go.
  • Simply giving status updates on Twitter.