Outage downs Gmail

February 25, 2009 // 11:39 a.m.

Tags: #cloud-computing #e-mail #gfail #gmail #google #google-apps #google-mail #outage

A whoopsie at Google caused near-apoplexy amongst its users yesterday when web-based e-mail service Gmail was unavailable for nearly two and a half hours.

As reported by CNet – amongst others – the outage started at 0930 GMT and wasn't fully resolved until midday. Affecting users around the globe, many of the more highly-strung members of this world wide web believed the end to be nigh – with Twitter users going so far as to create a category for messages relating to the outage in order to reassure each other that they are not alone.

While it's incredibly frustrating when access to your e-mail disappears, it's a non-too-uncommon occurrence when reliant on cloud computing systems such as those offered by Google.

While functionality is in place to mitigate the effect of such outages – such as the offline access option recently added to the Gmail site along with POP3 access to your Gmail account – many users either don't know about these features or choose not to use them. It's doubly frustrating for business customers, who pay Google for the privilege of using their service – and it's the business customers who have the most cause to complain.

In exchange for a monthly or annual payment, Google promises 99.9 percent uptime for its hosted servers for corporations. Despite this lengthy – for Google, anyway – outage, the company has always managed to exceed that target; but customers don't remember when the service worked, only when it didn't. If Google truly wants to sell cloud computing to the corporate world, it needs to keep an eye on its uptime.

Did the Gmail outage have you running for the hills with a supply of tinned food and shotgun shells, or do people need to chill out about their e-mail being unavailable for a few hours? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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