Apple recently experienced outages in a few of their key services, and the downtime couldn't have come at a worse time. The company's new smartwatch line - the Apple Watch - has been gaining lots of publicity, and the company officially unveiled the device just two days before the outage struck. All eyes were on Apple and how it was going to expand the way consumers access apps and services, only to have a major, global outage impact millions of users.
An internal IT operations error caused the downtime event, and the scale of the outage, combined with how easily it occurred, puts an emphasis on how organizations need to invest in change management technologies to ensure they are well positioned to avoid unexpected downtime.
Looking at the Apple outage
The AP report providing key details on the outage event explained that the downtime lasted for more than five hours. During that time, millions of people were locked out of their iTunes accounts, the mobile app store, and the Mac app store accounts, leading to significant lost revenue for Apple. However, the damages went much deeper. During that time, Apple users took to social media and other online channels to talk about their frustrations with Apple, creating clear reputation damages for the tech giant on the heels of a new product keynote.
Apple partners also suffered. The report explained that apple delivered approximately $27 million in daily revenues to app developers using its app store to sell their services. As users were unable to access their accounts during those five hours, developers using Apple's network lost substantial revenue.
All told, the damages were so substantial that Apple's stocks droped by more than $2 per share after event.
Citing a release delivered to CNBC, Macworld explained that the outage occurred because of an internal DNS error emerged within Apple's configuration. The news source explained that the problems that faced Apple users were far reaching and effectively made it impossible for users to log into any of their Apple services. While the primary, complete outage lasted for five hours, smaller problems started emerging in individual services, particularly iCloud, much earlier than the large-scale downtime was recognized.
Considering the implications of the Apple outage
Having a DNS error pop up in the data center is an extremely simple problem to run into. These types of outages can emerge because of something as simple as a user selecting the incorrect destination server during a change operation, and the implications of such a mistake can be severe. Alternately, some DNS errors are not the result of a human mistake, but instead occur because of an unexpected result of a change task. The potential for both human error and unintended consequences in change operations is significant, and organizations that want to avoid such problems need to get their change processes in order.
The rise of wearable devices, smartphones, tablets and other configuration items that are not directly controlled by IT teams creates an added layer of complexity when it comes to managing technology operations. The resulting environment leaves minimal room for error, as even a tiny mistake can shut users out of services, open up security vulnerabilities and severely limit employee productivity when users cannot access business services. The same problems can easily emerge when it comes to customer-facing content, as the diverse ways that consumers are accessing technology services makes data pathways and workflows often a bit trickier.
Apple's outage was frustrating for customers, but it isn't emblematic of some great failure on Apple's part. Instead, the company simply fell prey to the kind of basic configuration management problem that threatens every business. Advanced change management platforms are emerging to resolve these issues and give organizations peace of mind that they can handle the scale and complexity of change operations in IT systems interacting with diverse device types.
[Image via Apple]