There are numerous news articles like this one in PCMag.com reporting that accounting and tax software company Intuit suffered a massive outage beginning Tuesday night at about 2200 EDST that took down its main web site Intuit.com along with those of Quicken, QuickBooks, TurboTax and Quickbase.
Many small businesses depend on Intuit's on-line accounting services, and according to the news reports, they are extremely angry over the outages. Some 300,000 customers use Intuit's on-line services, which generated about a third of the company's revenue of $1.61 billion, PCMag.com said.
As of 1332 EDST today, Intuit announced that all of its services were back on-line and fully operational.
The explanation given for the problem was described on Intuit's blog this way:
"Our preliminary investigation indicates the outage occurred during a routine maintenance procedure Tuesday night. An accidental power failure during that procedure affected both our primary and backup systems, taking a number of Intuit web sites and services offline. While power was quickly restored, we're working diligently to validate our systems and bring them back into full operation."
Intuit also apologized saying, "We apologize for disruptions we've caused and understand the importance of our services to our customers."
How many of its customers unconditionally accept Intuit's apology will be interesting to see. I don't doubt that many will demand that they be compensated for the losses they may have occurred.
Before the BP oil spill, most companies in similar circumstances would likely say to their customers, "Sorry about that, but accidents happen, and we aren't legally responsible for the negative consequences to you that may have resulted." In this post-BP compensation fund era, I think more IT customers are going to demand they too be made whole for IT errors, accidents or not.
Again, it will be interesting to see whether Intuit feels that it needs to do more than provide a written apology to its customers.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.