How Not To Do Online Storage Services

HP had a major faux paux when they rushed their shiny new Upline online data storage service to market. They ended up pulling back and shutting the service down for several reasons. The problems were described as "technical issues" and I'd say the were certainly more than just your ordinary new software kinks. There's some good lessons here for all of us as we use, build applications and create products in the world of Live Mesh and Live Office Workspace.

What kinds of problems happened? Well, first, users uploaded data only to later log in and find the data was no longer present. But that actual problem was due to a bug in the automatic sign on process that signed users into someone else's account. Ops. I'm guessing that's not what HP had in mind when telling users they could "share" their data online.

HP also closed accounts from international customers. Apparently the service is only intended for US resident consumption and the sign up process didn't weed out or tell users the non-US accounts weren't yet supported. Those unfortunate "customers" got a closed account "dear John" letter.

It just goes to show you that offering software, storage or other SaaS online services isn't fully equivalent to the world of shrink wrapped products. Services come with a new set of challenges. Multi-tenant also means securing the data of multi-tenants. HP's learnings in this situation would be good for all of us to take note of, customers and vendors alike.

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