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Joyent's Hosted Apps Back Up, Going Open Source

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After a more than week-long crash of a server hosting two of its inexpensive Web-based services, Strongspace and BingoDisk, Joyent is taking steps to address customer complaints following the outages--and taking both applications open source.

Both Strongspace, an online secure document collaboration service, and BingoDisk, a Web storage hosting solution, will go open source over the next year, allowing anyone to run either service "on any infrastructure provider they choose," the company said.

Joyent CEO David Young announced the open source decision on the company's blog following the systems' recovery last week.

While the timing of the announcement is tied to the outage, Young said in an interview late last week that the company had always planned to take both services open source. "Absolutely. We were planning on doing this," he said. "The value we provide to customers is in the running the services."

"Imagine being able to use Gmail and add features to it ... that's sort of what we're trying to do," he continued. "These are large, hosted services that people can use but can also improve."

Joyent has already made several other contributions to open source, including its Web collaboration suite Connector.

As reported last week, Strongspace and BingoDisk went down on Jan. 12 after the Sunfire X4500 server hosting those services on got hit with a Zettabyte File System bug. (The consequences of the bug are described in this Joyent blog post, and a company podcast provides a detailed technical explanation here.) BingoDisk came up after eight days, and Strongspace's service was restored a week ago on Monday. No data was lost, the company reported.

Joyent is trying to make up for the outages with its customers. BingoDisk customers will not be charged for four months of services. New customers will get two months free service, and anyone who decides to cancel will have their prorated annual subscription refunded plus two weeks.

Strongspace is no longer accepting new clients, and any current clients will be able to continue to use the service at no cost. Strongspace will be replaced with a more expensive, "bulletproof" service, Young said, which will debut before October 2008. When the replacement is implemented, Strongspace clients will be given two to four months of free service on the new system. Current Strongspace customers that choose to cancel the service now can get a refund for two weeks of service time.

"Customers of these services are rightly outraged.... I apologize for the outages," Young wrote in his post. "While these measures do not get back the eight and 10 days of downtime, I hope they do send the message that we value all of our customers."

According to Young, so far, customer reaction to the incident has been mixed.

"A lot of people have been appreciative and happy--and some people are outraged," he commented. "I understand the outrage, and we're trying to listen to them and say, 'You're right--it should be bulletproof ... but that kind of service is going to cost more.'"

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About the author: Becky Nagel is executive editor, Web Initiatives for the 1105 Redmond Media Group and the editor of Redmondmag.com.

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is a contributor to Application Development Trends. She is the editor of ADT's sister sites CertCities.com, TCPmag.com and Redmondmag.com, and is co-editor of RCPmag.com. You can contact her at bnagel@1105media.com.

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