Skype failure explanation leaves unanswered questions
As Stan Beer pointed out, a Skype outage for a consumer is little more than an inconvenience. But small business users should have disaster recovery plans in place to deal with such eventualities. (So should larger businesses, but I'm going to assume they know what they are doing.)
Frankly, using anything other than a bona fide carrier for your primary incoming line(s) is asking for trouble. You might use Skype or some other non-carrier VoIP service to save money on outgoing calls, but you quickly get into trouble if your customers can't reach you. One possibility is to get a 1300 number so you can quickly direct incoming calls to either your PSTN or VoIP service in the event an outage affects the other - your customers should never notice the difference.
Another point is that you don't want to be completely cut off from the outside world if your Internet connection fails. Keeping a regular phone line avoids this. Admittedly, the copper wire does provide a single point of failure for DSL and PSTN connections, but most small business can't do much about that.
For intra-company communication, medium-sized and larger businesses can set up their own service based on Office Communications Server or some other software (and probably have already done so for control and governance reasons). Small businesses - especially 'virtual organisations' comprised mainly of independent contractors or microbusinesses - that have come to rely on Skype to make up for being physically distributed across a city or even around the world could do a lot worse than ensuring that all the individuals involved have accounts on at least one other public messaging service (even if it is text only) and have each other on their buddy lists.
Maybe last week's failure will be the last for Skype. But the fact that it happened should serve as a wake-up call for those who have come to rely on it.
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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.