As of this moment, the popular social bookmarking website Ma.gnolia has been off the air for almost three days because of "data corruption and loss". When (if?) Ma.gnolia comes back the data may be gone forever.
This is a life-critical event for an enterprise defined by the data it stores. Founder Larry Halff's apology even seems to stutter ("to to"):
"I can't provide a certain timeline or prognosis as to to when or to what degree Ma.gnolia or your bookmarks will return"
Initially, the key words are to what degree. As time marches on when will become more important, perhaps replaced by who cares? as users flock to delicious.com (formerly known as del.icio.us, get it?).
According to Wired, "Ma.gnolia posted a short note on its website shortly after 9 a.m. Pacific time (January 30), saying it was down temporarily due to a database failure."
Huh?A "database failure"? OK, it's time for a FAQ:
Q: Why should I use a database?
A: Because a database server automatically recovers after a system crash. Because a database backup is an internally consistent copy of all your data.
Q: Why should I take a backup of my database?
A: Because computer files sometimes get lost or corrupted. Because disk drives sometimes stop working. Because sometimes, whole computer systems are destroyed. Along with the buildings they are in.
Q: How do I back up my database?
A: If you're talking about SQL Anywhere, shut down the database server and copy the .DB file to another location. On another disk drive, on another computer, maybe even in another building.
Q: How do I restore my database?
A: Copy the backup .DB file back to its original location and start the SQL Anywhere database server.
Q: Why haven't you mentioned the relational model, SQL, ACID, online backup or database mirroring?
A: Because this is Database 101. Databases like SQL Anywhere have all that other stuff, but the first things first: ya gotta have a plan.
Q: What was that about online backup?
A: The dbbackup utility lets you back up a running database to a disk drive anywhere in the world. It can also do a "live backup" by continuously shipping transaction log records to that other disk drive.
Q: What is database mirroring?
A: It's really called "High Availability" where you have two complete database servers with two matching copies of the database in two different locations. When one server fails all the users are switched over to the other one, and all their data is safe.
But does anyone care?It may be a moot point now, but Gnolia Systems (Ma.gnolia, get it?) had previously announced an ambitious project to redevelop the Ma.gnolia software. The Ma.gnolia 2 Charter is most interesting for what's missing, not what it contains.
For example, it mentions technical terms like Ruby on Rails, OPENID, OAUTH and a "new API method: user_find", but none of the following words appear anywhere in the 12 pages:
- protect, protection
Can you hear me now?Yeah, sure, I'm piling on, kicking Ma.gnolia when it's down, but that's not the point.
The point is, WHO ELSE OUT THERE DOESN'T GET IT?
Larry Halff and his team are paying for their complete lack of foresight. They will never forget this past weekend for the rest of their lives. But Ma.gnolia doesn't matter, what matters is YOUR DATA.
Gosh, do ya think?So I'm gonna pile on some more, with this excerpt from the "Why M2?" section of the Ma.gnolia 2 Charter:
"A major re-design is required to truly take advantage of lessons learned over 3 years. These issues range across identity, reputation, spam, privacy and contact management, cross-service presence, operational costs and the personal and organizational goals that customers bring to a social bookmarking service."Gosh, do ya think it's time to add something to the "lessons learned"?