Rarely have I heard of a bigger epic failure in IT circles…

As many people have undoubtedly already read, Sidekick users are in a whole heap of trouble right about now. For those who aren’t familiar with the Sidekick (also known as the Hiptop), it’s a “smartphone” that acts differently from other smartphones. In essence, other than the phone application, it’s a thin client, where everything (including the address book and applications) is hosted on Danger’s servers instead of on the phone itself. An official posting on T-Mobile’s forums states that all data is lost, even though they’re trying to recover what they can.

As for what happened, well… from the rumors I’ve seen, it appears a SAN upgrade went seriously awry and caused the entire array to get hosed. One would think that they would have backups of this data; hell, my own personal “datacenter” is relatively small scale, yet I have daily backups to tape. Also, I have MK Online on a workable and tested backup system. I’m guessing that the backup system they were using wasn’t being kept up-to-date or even monitored. For something as mission critical as that, not having working and tested backups is absolutely inexcusable.

So, what’s happening right now? T-Mobile is stressing to users to not power off or reboot their devices under any circumstances, or else they will lose all of the data on them. Given how bleak the situation looks, I’d say the best thing the Sidekick users could be doing right now is copying all of their address books to paper as quickly as humanly possible. I have at least one friend who is (or now was) a loyal Sidekick user, so this must come as another huge blow alongside all of the other crap she has had to go to.

For me, I had honestly considered a Sidekick a LONG time ago, before moving to my employer’s wireless plan (which is with AT&T Wireless/Cingular/AT&T). Even then, the thought of having EVERYTHING server-side and nothing stored locally unnerved me. I’ve always been a big believer in hosting my own stuff, from email to blogging. Right now the only real exception is Twitter, and I don’t exactly consider that “mission critical” (like any of this stuff is). :-) That way, I can make sure everything is backed up on my own terms, and if something goes wrong, the only person I can blame is myself. Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t go with the Sidekick now.

So, to all you Sidekick users… you have my utter sympathies. I would wish you luck with your Sidekick, but I’m willing to bet most of you will likely be switching platforms now… and I’m willing to bet that this will be the final nail in the coffin for the Sidekick.