This is insane: Slack could never crash again
July 05, 2018 16:08
Today the impossible happened, our beloved Slack crashed sending chaos into offices around the globe. “Wow, how am I now going to vote for the flavour of our new office candy???”, I thought. But even though it might not have felt like it, everything else around us was still working: the world was still spinning, South Korea was winning over Germany at the World Cup, and today’s quotas and goals had to be met. In these situations, people most often turn towards traditional messaging tools like messenger, WhatsApp or email and hope for the best — that Slack will be back up soon. However, these temporary remedies are not without their complications: undelivered messages that you thought were read, lost documents, mental breakdowns, wasted time, etc.… In general, for us it creates a problematic gap in our office chat history.
But what if I told you that these crashes could potentially never occur again?
Yes, this is real life, and it’s exactly what mesh technology is about so we are going to explain it. In this scenario, if Slack ran with mesh networks, its users would not have been affected by its current technology’s single point of failure, which in this case was the crash of the server.
Lol okay, how is this possible bc this is real life???
Mesh networks might not sound familiar to everyone so let’s compare it with other well-known networking topologies. Consider a Local Area Network (LAN), where devices are connected to a central access point (imagine it like a star with the central access point in the middle and the devices located at the ends). Be it LAN or wifi, the idea is the same, so when I send a message on Slack, it first arrives at the Slack server (the central access point) and from there it is sent to the recipient.
In mesh networks, devices are directly connected to each other. They form a local network using existing connectivity technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi as “connectors”. Devices can act as “routers” and forward messages and files to others, enabling the content to hop between them until it reaches a destination. This eliminates the need for a central entity.
Let’s apply this concept to today’s crisis. If slack ran on top of mesh networks, their consumers would still be able to communicate and send files even though they were not connected to the crashed server. Once it was up and running again, all their group conversations which would have taken place during the outrage would be uploaded back to Slack’s server once they were back online.
Honestly, it’s that simple. To Slack, it would not only be convenient for its customers in situations like these (because we would never have Slack crashes), it would also considerably reduce their own infrastructure costs and prevent them from having moments that they might find embarrassing.
So slack, if you see that mesh networks could potentially help you, come talk to us.