I have a sample ReadyTalk account that I use for testing purposes. As a result, I see the same notifications as any other customer. On Wednesday I received an email stating that some customers were unable to connect to the ReadyTalk website or access web conferences, recordings, or SalesForce.com integrations.
The notification email gave the cause of the problem as a domain registration renewal error that was corrected quickly. But DNS servers cache paths to websites, and some customer servers did not get refreshed with the updated information. The email contained a telephone number for additional questions and I also successfully contacted an online representative through live web chat.
Today I received another email further explaining the problem source, the steps ReadyTalk took in resolving it, the start and end times of the service interruption, and the plans ReadyTalk is making to avoid the possibility of future DNS interruptions.
Obviously any affected customer (and not all had problems) who needed access to the ReadyTalk conferencing during that period would be livid. But any and every web-based service is subject to the possibility of downtime. It has happened to many other web conferencing vendors as well as online retailers, service providers, and the US Government.
What is more important to me is transparency and timely communications to the company's client base, along with a sense that the company takes the problem seriously and will try to improve reliability or failover in the future. And this is where I want to recognize ReadyTalk for their communications. I appreciated seeing the explanation of root cause, the window of interruption, and the forward-looking plans for improvement. About the only other thing I would have wished for would have been a Twitter message or website posting as soon as all services were restored so that customers knew immediately that they should have access again.
As we rely more and more on cloud-based business services, occasional interruptions will always be a possibility. Fixing the immediate problem is critical of course, but so is proper communication. It's nice to be able to point to a positive example.