Today (Thursday, February 13), WebEx had a service interruption. I'm working completely third-hand on this reporting, as I was not using the service myself. This post is not related to details about the nature of the crash, just the communication process to users. I have not talked to anyone at the company, so these are purely my personal observations as an outsider.
Looking over tweets from users, I see notices of the service being down starting around 1:30pm Eastern. At 2:10pm @revolize tweeted:
You'd think after ~45 minutes of service outage, @WebEx twitter account would post some update acknowledging it.
At 2:31pm, the official WebEx twitter account tweeted:
#WebEx Services were disrupted this morning. Most services are back online. Thanks for your patience! Will update.
At 7:17pm I still hadn't seen another tweet from their account. I tweeted asking for a status update. Were all services now online? Where was their follow up?
They came back quickly:
We're sorry. We have confirmed an internal DNS error caused today's outage. More info from your #WebEx contact.
So all we know is that the company identified on its own overview web page as "the worldwide leader in networking" had problems with their internal DNS configuration. Humorously ironic, but hell… That stuff happens.
What bothers me is the irony invoked when you read the rest of the same sentence on that overview page: "the worldwide leader in networking - transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate."
WebEx was unable to adequately connect, communicate, or collaborate with their frustrated users. I reported a similar story in March of 2013 when WebEx had a similar service drop. At the time I pointed out that rapid real-time communications and updates for users of a hosted service (particularly one dedicated to real-time communications and collaboration) was imperative and that Cisco needed to make better preparations and policies about keeping their very large user base adequately informed.
I don't believe that notification of full service restoration is too much to ask when your only previous note mentioned "most services." I don't think that "Will update" should leave a gap of five hours until someone prompts you to say something else. I don't think that "Contact your rep" is appropriate dissemination of information.
Cisco needs to implement better online status check tools and a better crisis communications policy. They host a globally-used real-time service and interruptions affect customers' businesses in significant ways. Those customers deserve better and more useful responsiveness. Because if the company doesn't say anything, the socially connected user community will, as this post from @hthomascap put it so succinctly:
@WebEx Very frustrating! Happy that we in the twitter community could talk amongst ourselves!