Microsoft CIO Sidekick’s T-Mobile Users

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T-Mobile Sidekick Users Are Feeling A Sense Of (Data) Loss
T-Mobile Sidekick Users Are Feeling A Sense Of (Data) Loss

So this story should probably be filed in the “it should have never happened” drawer: Microsoft has lost the information that T-Mobile users of the Sidekick mobile phone entrusted them to store for them. Wait a minute, isn’t this the grand and glorious 21st Century in which data loss like this is never supposed to happen any more? How did Microsoft’s CIO let the ball get dropped like this?

Oops, Your Data’s Gone

Before we spend too much time going after Tony Scott, let’s take a moment and do what they do on CSI: take a look at the crime scene.

For the better part of a week T-Mobile subscribers who use the Sidekick mobile device have been having problems, lots of problems. Specifically, they have been having trouble getting access to their personal information. This has included contact lists, calendar data, photos, etc. Where was all of this data being stored? Why on Microsoft servers of course.

T-Mobile is now reporting that they have been able to restore the ability of the Sidekick to go online, they are also telling their users that they may not be able to recover their personal data. The exact phrase that was used was that the data “almost certainly” had been lost.

How Is This Microsoft CIO’s Fault?

At the end of the day, the ultimate responsibility for this lost of countless users’ personal data has to rest of the shoulders of Microsoft’s CIO, Tony Scott. I suspect that that job is a great job until something like this happens. Microsoft got into the business of hosting T-Mobile Sidekick user’s personal data when they bought the company Danger, Inc. back in early 2008.

Microsoft has broken the unwritten rule that hosted data must never be lost or destroyed – when we store things in the cloud, we are trusting the firm doing the storing to make sure that nothing bad happens.

What Does All Of This Mean For You

First off, if you use T-Mobile’s Sidekick device I’d suggest that you start backing up your personal data locally. Secondly, it’s pretty clear that the Danger, Inc. servers that Microsoft took ownership somehow got overlooked in the grand scheme of things.

Every CIO has to have a program in place that lays out step-by-step what the firm needs to do when they purchase another firm – the best example of a company that does this very well is Cisco. I can understand that the Danger, Inc. purchase happened before Tony Scott came on board; however, that is no excuse.

A CIO has to realize that he / she probably doesn’t have everything under control when they take the helm of the IT department. This means that a full audit of all servers being managed and just who is using them has to be one of the first things that a new CIO does.

Yes, Tony will probably survive this data loss disaster and yes, T-Mobile Sidekick users will probably continue to use the devices. However, there could be trust ramifications for the Cloud computing service called Azure that Microsoft is starting up – would you trust them with your data now?

Editor Update: Some Sidekick Data To Be Saved

In all fairness to Microsoft, I must report that on Friday, 10/16/09, Microsoft reported that they had been able to recover some of the lost Sidekick data. I can just imagine the mad scramble and expensive disk recovery resources that were involved in making this happen.

Congratulations to Microsoft for doing the right thing after the fact. Even given this “save”, it’s the CIO’s responsibility to make sure that things like this never happen in the first place.

What is the first thing that Microsoft’s CIO should have done when he realized that they had lost T-Mobile user’s data?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Over at Wachovia (purchased by Wells Fargo awhile ago) the IT systems are dropping the ball and people are in danger of losing their homes. Sounds like Avid Modjtabai, Executive Vice President, Technology and Operations, for Wells Fargo & Company, has got some explaining to do…