Someone Needs To Stop Tripping Over The Power Cord At Rackspace

picture-28As much of the web seemed to notice this morning, several sites running on Rackspace’s servers went down. Yes, again.

For the second time in 8 days, a power outage interrupted service at one of its data centers. And again it was the Dallas center that was effected. This time however, Rackspace was able to get things up and running fairly quickly, and more importantly, communicated well through its blog and Twitter throughout the downtime.

Still, it raises the question, why do power outages keep taking down a service that so many rely on? They have backups in place, so what’s going on?

Last time, Rackspace blamed the failure on a series of events that began with a power failure, and eventually tripped up its backup system. It isn’t saying exactly what happened this time yet, but if it was the same issue, obviously that’s a problem.

The issue here is reliability. A lot companies run their services through Rackspace. If it goes down, even for just an hour, that’s lost business. Last time around, Rackspace coughed up as much as $3.5 million in credits to those who were affected. It will undoubtedly have to cough up money this time around as well.

The promise of reliability is presumably one of the reasons Google kept Gmail in beta for so long, finally removing it today after several years. Now, if something happens, there’s no leaning on that beta crutch anymore.

To be clear, Rackspace has a pretty good history when it comes to reliabilty. Before last week’s downtime, it was November 2007 that a major outage last occurred. And that’s why it’s so troubling that we’ve seen two outages in just about a week.

[photo: flickr/Gordon McDowell]