Monday, August 11, 2008

Mediamax - Luzo discussion : so long to Mediamax/The Linkup

The Linkup is now off line. I spoke with Steve Iverson, CEO, on its last day of operation (8 August) to try to gain a little more insight into what hope there is, if any, for retrieving files that did not make it into The Linkup from the Mediamax system. I won't keep you in suspense. As Steve said in a post here, there is no hope. This posting sets out what we covered in our conversation and has been checked by Steve Iverson as an accurate record.

Access to the front-end/database

Steve told me that he has had discussions with Nirvanix engineers and senior management - though not Jonathan Buckley, the Chief Marketing Officer, who spoke with me last week following email conversations. Jonathan had suggested it may be possible to retrieve files on the old Streamload servers inherited by Nirvanix if they had access to the Mediamax front-end/database. Steve has confirmed that this is not the case.

He said Nirvanix can have the database if it would do any good, but the engineers have not requested it and nobody is talking about that issue besides Jonathan Buckley.

Where are our files?

We discussed what had happened with the files that did not transfer into The Linkup.

Steve says that Mediamax has tried with Nirvanix to retrieve lost files, but failed. As recent information here from Nirvanix and Mediamax suggest, there is some friction between the companies over this. However, Steve stresses that if they could have got the files back, they would have. Mediamax/The Linkup wanted to be a thriving business, since the spin off from Streamload. It has creditors and investors who wanted it to thrive. Customers too wanted it to work. He says they tried everything they could, but it is now game over.

It is unclear what happened to the files that did not transfer, but there is a possibility it is linked to the accidental deletion of files that took place at Streamload (which had been renamed Mediamax for a short duration) in June 2007, shortly before the formal split that led to the creation of Nirvanix and Mediamax as separate legal entities. But he admits that this too is just speculation because nobody from Mediamax knows for certain because they did not maintain the storage servers.

The accidental deletion

This took place in June 2007, prior to the legal formation of Nirvanix in July 2007. There was work going in preparation for this separation, during which the deletion took place. Nirvanix took on the role of file recovery, as it inherited the Streamload servers, contracting a third party to help with this. While a high success rate was claimed (96% was mentioned in a recent DEMO article; 99% was reported to Mediamax by Nirvanix), it is not certain how accurate this is. The audits conducted by users of these blogs on their own large files archives would suggest a lower figure.

The future of Mediamax/The Linkup

The company now has no staff, offices or equipment. It has creditors and investors (Windward Ventures being one mentioned in the DEMO article, which I have tried to contact).

The Linkup ultimately failed because the company felt it could not bill existing customers when so many files had not transferred. With no subscribers, there was no income stream. Money was invested in making The Linkup a better platform - and participants in these blogs tried to help in beta testing - but it was not to be, which became apparent pretty quickly. Hence the announcement to shut down.

It is not yet clear whether there will be a bankruptcy process.

Relationship with Box.net

I asked Steve about the relationship with Box.net which advertised on The Linkup site and in a mailout to users. Steve said that they are now simply selling all assets (including domain names and web site traffic) to try and pay all their creditors back as best as possible. There is no other connection.

Lost data

So the conclusion from this conversation is that no data is now recoverable. If Nirvanix wants access to the front-end/database, they can have it, but that should not give any hope.

What users visiting here do next is a discussion for another day.

14 comments:

Jabash said...

An article recently appeared in Network world that provides some additional information. It mentions yet another company who hosted the frontend software and database.

http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/081108-linkup-failure.html?hpg1=bn

I do not believe it is impossible to retrieve the data if it is still there. Whether it is too expensive or whether there is anyone willing to do it is the question.

Jabash said...

Also, I can tell you I uploaded a substantial amount of files in Dec 2007 - Feb 2008 and they were all there until I got the first notice of TLU. So the alleged 2007 deletion of file by Nirvanix does not explain why my files are not retrievable.

If Nirvanix says they just need the frontend why not give it to them even if MM Mr. Iverson claims it will not help.

Or send it to me and I will work on getting it hosted somewhere.

Luzo Orbit said...

Jabash: Steve Iverson said there is no problem with Nirvanix having access to the front end/database. He said he has been in on-going discussion with engineers at Nirvanix to try to retrieve files, but suggests the problem is on the storage side.

I've relayed this to Jonathan Buckley, who said the front end should provide access to the files stored on the Nirvanix (old Streamload) servers and asked if this will indeed resolve it. Or is the problem really at the Nirvanix end.

The front end/database is available for Nirvanix to retrieve the data of Mediamax users. It would be nice if they can do so, and if not, to know what happened to the data on the servers to make it inaccessible.

Jabash said...

It would be great but if it were that simple why wouldn't they have tried it right after it happened. I never understood why MM was taken down so fast. My first email notice said MM would remain active for people to manually transfer to TLU those files not transfered automatically (early 2008). Then my MM said all my files were transfered but my TLU account never contained one file. I think the somehow need to go back both of the back end files and the front end software to before the attempted migration. I have no IT background, however, I am just using logic.

The Network World article says the frontend was hosted on Savvis. I wonder how the logistics can be handled to transfer the program of the rights to activate the program.

It would be nice if the players could get together for a short time to try to find a solution and end this saga, clear their reputations and help the users.

Luzo Orbit said...

That's exactly the point Mediamax was making, it is not that simple, because they say something has messed up on the servers, which are outside their control. Steve Iverson said they cannot even be sure the files are still on the servers and have been unable to resolve this problem with the Nirvanix engineers.

Nirvanix - Jonathan Buckley - suggested with access to the database they could get the files back. Well, he has that access, so let's see if Nirvanix can restore access. Mediamax suggests they will not be able to because something was messed up on the servers. I hope Jonathan can shed some light on this.

IceAge said...

Well, the ball is firmly in Nirvanix' court now. TLU is no more. The paying customers get nothing back, while TLU pay back creditors through advertising. Pay back the people who got no service!

Right, Nirvanix. Servers. DB corruption. ETC.

I know DB's can be corrupted. But no backup? Rubbish.

Was there a hardware failure. No backup. Rubbish.

They have the front end. It's going to be based on something like sql. Not some super fangled TLU new DB. They didn't have the resources for it. All DB's have a standard naming index. A few tweaks and you can get stuff sorted. It's takes time, but hell we've been waiting long enough already.

Can someone refresh my memory why MM suddenly changed into TLU within a month again?

And why were they creating a new front end for TLU??

Yes, remember all the new things TLU had. Nothing remotely like MM. There was a reason for that on their behalf. Which I can't remember right now, or maybe it wasn't mentioned?

Either way. The situation sucks and is fast being brush away with the usual 'IT' jargon of incompatibility that no court in the land will be able to follow and with business dodgyness that TLU nirvanix and the various other 'unrelated' entities ensure to keep tossing around.

Forget Nirvanix, or go on a web based tirade of discrediting them if you wish. TLU is dead. Spit on their grave, or worse and rejoice in it happening. Beware of the names mentioned in Nirvanix, and TLU and avoid any association with them. Including box.net from my perspective until TLU pay its customers back. THEN

Do what is right and focus on the law being changed. All these companies have TOS that screw us over no matter how much we pay, or do not pay. That is what should be done now.

JD said...

The deletion of files occured in june 2007 just before the split off between mediamax and nirvanix.
I tested at that time also the availability of all my files at mediamax and I counted about 45% files downloadable.

Mediamax already had serious troubles in stability of the software since the migration of streamload to mediamax. Around august/september 2007 Steve Iverson announced already building a complete new frontend for mediamax. The reason was that mediamax contained serious flaws which were structural so they couldn't repair them and it would be better to build a new solution.

Jabash said...

I am trying to keep things straight. It seems to be there were two major events related to the files. The accidental deletion in mid-2007 and the attempted automated migration in early 2008. I uploaded many files in Jan 2008 that disappeared when TLU started. Why there are no backups to solve this is also another unanswered question, except maybe with all the users they didn't realize the problem until it was too late.

As Iceage said, I never understood why TLU was created. It offered nothing other than a place to park files at a time when there were lots of better options, compared to MM which at least tried to do something more. On top of this after all the trouble at MM it was finally running well in 2008, imho. So why the switch. Not that it really matters at this point.

epg said...

The switch, both times, was TO GET RID OF UNPROFITTABLE USERS. That's us. No other reason makes sense. The switch to MM was no improvement over Streamload. But they did lose customers. The switch to TLU offered no improvement over MM. But they did lose customers.

That is it, folks. After Patrick Harr came in, Streamload/MM/TLU never intended to offer a real service, just to get rid of the unprofitable business and clear the path for Nirvanix. They could not say this, nor will they ever say this, because imagine the scandal.

No company releases a product without testing it like MM/TLU did, unless it COUNTS on losing users.

This is exactly what MM/TLU wanted. They were dead weight to Nirvanix.

That's the reason the files are unrecoverable.

It is not a technical reason.

If it were a technical reason, they'd have released the source code and a savy programmer would've hacked it together in a week or two. So where is the source code, Iverson?

Exactly.

Jabash said...

I was a paying customer from the very beginning so I don't see why they would intentionally get rid of me.

Luzo Orbit said...

It is no longer any secret that Streamload split because it was losing money due to the large legacy of data it was storing. This is from the Nirvanix blog: "The company never deleted any inactive data stored for its former users and received no monies for maintaining those files. As a result, this required the company to raise new capital and change its direction as it was losing money."

The new investors weren't interested in the legacy customers, they wanted to set up as a storage service to other service providers.

The customers went with Mediamax. I'm not so convinced that the strategy was to kill this business, at least on the part of those who ran it, despite all the evidence to the contrary, which can be explained by incompetence (though perhaps on the part of Nirvanix as of Mediamax, given the claims and counter claims being made).

The most convincing sign of this is that Mediamax attracted at least one new investor: Winward Ventures. This company is now deciding whether to declare its business bankrupt.

The asset that Mediamax took with it was its customers, not its software. Customers provide and income stream - at least the paying ones. The switch to The Linkup was an attempt to make a better interface - users of the unofficial Mediamax blogs tried out beta versions of it. Clearly it was also a disgraceful attempt to dump the free users, with the one-week notice that they had to becoming paying customers or their accounts would be closed - a notice that some posters here say they did not receive.

All the same, I do think The Linkup wanted a functioning business to come out of it, one that would attract new customers and provide a payback to the investors and rid it of the awful image that Mediamax had developed.

Technically it didn't work and there were the same problems of misleading customers and keeping us in the dark.

I think the way to get further revelations is for those who wish to pursue a claim for damages and lost fees to group together. A legal action will require disclosure of documents. I'll post something about this fairly soon. Do contact me (via my profile page) if you want to help coordinate.

Katie said...

I primarily used Streamload/MM/ to store and host videos on my site. I'm having good results (so far) with humyo.com.
Since this company is out of England and Germany, it should be free from any individuals who worked in the past for Streamload/MM/Nirvanix.

Nirvanix said...

Everyone's favourite whipping boy(s) have just [re]appeared on Wikipedia at Nirvanix (Streamload is an alias) and The Linkup (MediaMax is an alias).

Given Wikipedia's verifiability requirements this should be a pretty good authorative source for information about the debacle.

Tom Bassett said...

Hey, those articles aren't bad.

I admire Wikipedia editors - the GOOD ones have a way of clarifying complex issues and making them simple and easily understandable by such as I.

And especially the Nirvanix article! I fully expect to see some "anonymous" edits to that article, by some of the same "anonymous" Nirvanix defenders that have left comments on this very blog - until it resembles a Nirvanix press release.