It didn’t take long on Tuesday for most of the wide awake world to learn that GMail had crashed. I say wide awake because GMail went down in the wee hours of the morning, 0130 PST to be exact, when most of North America was still sleeping.
That was no consolation for people in Europe who were just starting out or in the middle of their day or for folks in Asia who were finishing up their work or checking email at home. For 2 1/2 hours the vaunted email system was down, causing more than a little bit of an inconvenience for many.
For some businesses, reliance on GMail is exclusive as they have replaced their in-house emailing system with an advanced, paid version of GMail. The way that the advanced version works is that companies can set up GMail accounts for $50 a year per user account which also gives users access to messaging, Google Docs, video and more. No longer the worry of an internal I.T. department, Google handles everything for the customer.
I use the freebie version of GMail because that is all that I need. Though I am a sole proprietor, I don’t rely on GMail exclusively nor do I use its advanced applications. Yes, I use GMail as my email gateway, but if it should go down, I can send many of my messages out via Yahoo or private accounts I have with my web hosts. But, like everyone else, I cannot access my email archives which houses mission critical data.
On the Official GMail Blog, Google offered the following explanation for their recent outage:
This morning, there was a routine maintenance event in one of our European data centers. This typically causes no disruption because accounts are simply served out of another data center.
Unexpected side effects of some new code that tries to keep data geographically close to its owner caused another data center in Europe to become overloaded, and that caused cascading problems from one data center to another. It took us about an hour to get it all back under control.
The bugs have been found and fixed, and we’re in the process of pushing out changes. We know how painful an outage like this is — we run Google on Gmail, so outages like this affect us the same way they affect you. We always investigate the root causes of rare outages like this one, so we can prevent similar problems in the future.
Quite honestly, I would be upset too if my reliance on GMail caused me to miss a critical deadline as some people have been reporting. These days we’re so well interconnected that any outage or glitch can adversely impact the way that we touch base with people perhaps losing business in a very short period of time.
I have no idea how many of my own clients communicate with me exclusively via GMail, but I think that number must be quite large. Still, I believe using GMail for business can be an attractive option, one that shouldn’t be avoided even with this recent outage. After all, how many of us have endured lengthy email outages that our company’s I.T. team took hours to fix and at what cost to the company?
- Google Gmail outage compensation: $2.05 per user (news.cnet.com)
- Google says an issue with Gmail is delaying under 3% of messages with attachments (thenextweb.com)
- For some consumers, surveys breed feedback fatigue (usatoday.com)