Lessons From the WGA Downtime

For John Dvorak, the lesson from the WGA servers’ 19-hour outage is clear. All this proves is that these Web-based applications cannot be trusted. Matt Asay thinks that Dvorak has a point.

Yes, Dvorak does have a point, but in extracting a lesson from the WGA incident, he claims both too much and too little. Too much, because the incident doesn’t prove that no web app can be trusted, although it certainly highlights the risk of Software as a Service (SaaS).

Too little, because the incident also highlights the risk of buying from Microsoft. To be fair to Dvorak, he did remark that “there is no way such a thing could ever happen to Linux users,” but he then glossed over that point in order to urge us not to trust SaaS.

So, is shrink-wrap where it’s at for software? Does it avoid the problem of “being at the mercy of a single company”? Clearly, not if you buy all or much of your software from a single company. Even if you buy from multiple companies, you are at their mercy if you don’t have access to the source code.

The above leads us to Matt’s punchline: that “enterprises are best off owning their own data/content through open standards, and owning their own software through open source.”

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