October 7, 2021
Welcome to Protocol | Enterprise, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about cloud and enterprise software. This Thursday: what others can learn from Facebook's Black Monday, an upcoming Protocol event with ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott, and D-Wave's quantum-computing strategy enters a new era.
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Facebook is a unique tech company in pretty much every interpretation of that phrase. So, unsurprisingly, the details behind its massive global outage on Monday were irresistibly fascinating to anyone who has ever been responsible for building and maintaining enterprise tech. And while some of the particulars were definitely unique to Facebook, this outage was certainly one for the history books.
The outage is easy enough to understand. Facebook released more details about the causes leading up to the outage on Tuesday, after issuing a brief statement Monday evening that seemed mostly designed to counter unhinged conspiracy theories spreading on social media. (The irony!)
Facebook's infrastructure choices compounded the problem. Decisions made long ago about its internal architecture made recovering from this error far harder than it would have been for many other companies.
And its response was littered with roadblocks. Everything described so far happened in the span of about two minutes Monday morning as the West Coast work day got underway. Mistakes happen at webscale; it's how companies recover that matters, and that recovery was rockier than it had to be.
Every big outage is a learning opportunity, even for a company like Facebook that appears unwilling to learn from its mistakes in other areas. Here are three big takeaways from this one:
For some reason, though, the usual calls for #hugops in the wake of an outage were a little more muted than usual last Monday.
— Tom Krazit
Creating a workforce with the right mix of skills has always been a challenge for companies, and 74% of CEOs are concerned about finding skilled workers. That problem will likely only increase as the definition of work, and the needs of employees, evolve in a post-pandemic environment. So, what can companies do?
PCs A-OK: Windows 11 came out this week, as Microsoft's original cash cow hurtles into the future. Protocol's David Pierce talked to Microsoft's Panos Panay about some of the decisions behind the development of Windows 11 and why the work-from-home boom gave new life to the PC market.
Layaway 2.0: Our colleagues at Protocol | Fintech released the latest Protocol Manual on the surge of interest in "buy now, pay later" services and apps. Fintech could be an enormous opportunity for enterprise tech providers, because those transactions aren't going to process themselves.
ServiceNow is quickly becoming one of enterprise technology's most well-known names. The company started by focusing on helping IT departments manage their workloads, but is quickly expanding to other verticals and, on the way, becoming a deeper rival to other software giants like Salesforce.
We'll talk to CEO Bill McDermott on Oct. 12 at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET to learn what's ahead for the company and how it plans to hit $15 billion in annual revenue. RSVP here.
What was the first computer that got you excited about technology?
The iPhone. The idea of a smartphone was not new and had been tried (and failed) before. But Steve Jobs did what he knew how to do best: He focused on the user experience. The iPhone changed the way we communicate and live our lives, and it is mindblowing to think how much computation power we now literally hold in our hands.
If Protocol gave you $1 billion to start a new enterprise tech company from scratch today, what would you do?
The climate crisis is the single most important unmet challenge of our time. Mitigating the climate crisis and adapting to it requires innovative technological solutions that span multiple domains, including information technologies, artificial intelligence, bioengineering and advanced architecture and agriculture. Nobody knows better than an enterprise tech company how to combine a broad range of technologies to develop and execute solutions to hard problems.
What's your favorite pastime that doesn't involve a screen?
Before tech, I was a professional basketball player. To this day nothing calms me or helps me find focus like a challenging basketball match or a volleyball tournament.
Which enterprise tech legend motivates you the most?
Steve Jobs. Jobs understood that great ideas are only the beginning. Turning such ideas into truly successful products involves building the right team of excellent people, thinking hard about what the user needs (even if they don't know it yet), paying attention to details and uncompromising execution.
What will be the greatest challenge for enterprise tech over the coming decade?
Doing no harm. Information communication and data-driven technologies, coupled with artificial intelligence, have the power to improve our everyday lives and provide us with opportunities for creativity, exploration and communication. But at the same time they bear great risks to our emotional well-being, our self image, our privacy and our sense of community. Enterprise tech will have to develop the methodology, sensibility and openness to mitigate these risks.
Thanks for reading — see you Monday!