Just when we thought it was safe to go back in the water…
on Saturday June 19 a number of the QuickBooks services went out for the second time in a week. This time it probably won’t have the same wide ranging effects as the QuickBooks Service Outage earlier this week, but we all need to be concerned.
Update 7/21/2010 – Please refer to my followup article on the latest news about outages.
Here is the public statement from Intuit on their QuickBase status page:
June 19, 7 p.m. Pacific Time
We’re sorry. We are experiencing technical difficulties with QuickBase. We are aggressively working to resolve the issue. We cannot say with certainty exactly how long it will take to get things back up and running. But it may be a number of hours before we restore service completely.
What happened? At this time it looks like we are experiencing trouble with the same hardware system we experienced trouble with last week. That’s all we know right now. Over the next two hours, Intuit and its vendor are all hands on deck and we will post an update at 9 p.m. PT
This could affect a variety of things that you might not expect, as QuickBase is the “engine” that runs many applications. The National Advisor Network for ProAdvisors runs on QuickBooks, for example, and users cannot gain entry. Intuit Appcenter applications (IPP apps, and the Intuit Document Management program) cannot be accessed.
From other sources (and I haven’t confirmed this) I’m told that Intuit Payroll services are OK, but that there may be problems with QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Merchant Services (again, not confirmed).
Hopefully this will be a shorter outage. Weekend outages affect fewer people, although if Merchant Services is down that can be a big problem.
One way to keep track of their statements is to look at this discussion in the Intuit Community Forum.
What Is Going On?
I’ve asked a number of my contacts at Intuit for a detailed explanation of the problems, but I haven’t gotten any response other than the generic statements by their President, Brad Smith, and their CIO, Ginny Lee.
Here are some questions that come to mind, which I haven’t see answers to…
- What exactly happened?
- Were my accounts hacked? (the most likely answer is “no” but I want to be sure).
- Was my data lost? (the most likely answer is “no” for pretty much everything, but we need to know for sure).
- Why wasn’t there a “mirror site” at another location (preferably FAR away from the main one in a city I know of but I’m not supposed to mention) that would kick in automatically?
- What is being done to prevent this from happening again?
- What security measures have you taken to protect my data?
There are many more questions than this, but these are a good starting point.
In my opinion, Intuit is as good a shepherd for our online data and services as any other company in the US (or in the world for that matter). This kind of outage is very distressing, but as we move towards greater reliance on online systems, we are going to have to expect this kind of thing from MANY sources as time goes on. The “cloud computing” initiative is, in many ways, relatively young, and there are going to be growing pains.
Having said that, it is imperative that Intuit rebuilds our confidence in their ability to provide these services. We rely on them, they are mission critical to us. That is why I’m asking those questions outlined above, and many others that I’m not listing here that go into more technical detail.
And, to be honest, many (if not most) small businesses that use these kinds of services need to change their business practices so that outages like this won’t freeze their business operations. I hope to have an article, perhaps a series of articles, in conjunction with a well know QuickBooks expert and author, that will give you some ideas as to how to minimize the effects of these outages.
For more information see Running QuickBooks During Intuit Server Outages.
Category: General Tips
About the Author (Author Profile)
Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He’s been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70’s, focusing on inventory and accounting software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Look for Charlie’s articles in the Accountex Report blog, as well as his California Wildflower Hikes blog.