The free Internet calling service Skype has suffered a global-outage, various news outlets like this one at the Wall Street Journal are reporting. The outage, which occurred sometime before 1200 EST, seems to have disconnected at least 8 million of the 20 million people using it at the time, says this post at ReadWriteWeb. Apparently, if you are logged on, you can remain on, but if you are trying to log on, you can't.
According to this Skype blog post:
"Earlier today, we noticed that the number of people online on Skype was falling, which wasn’t typical or expected, so we began to investigate."
"Skype isn’t a network like a conventional phone or IM network – instead, it relies on millions of individual connections between computers and phones to keep things up and running. Some of these computers are what we call ‘supernodes’ – they act a bit like phone directories for Skype. If you want to talk to someone, and your Skype app can’t find them immediately (for example, because they’re connecting from a different location or from a different device) your computer or phone will first try to find a supernode to figure out how to reach them."
"Under normal circumstances, there are a large number of supernodes available. Unfortunately, today, many of them were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of Skype. As Skype relies on being able to maintain contact with supernodes, it may appear offline for some of you."
"What are we doing to help? Our engineers are creating new ‘mega-supernodes’ as fast as they can, which should gradually return things to normal. This may take a few hours, and we sincerely apologise for the disruption to your conversations. Some features, like group video calling, may take longer to return to normal."
The last time Skype suffered a major outage was in August 2007. It has some 560 million registered users.
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.