Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gmail Users Suffer 30 Hour Outage

Gmail and some Google Apps users suffered a 30-hour outage of the
webmail service last week.

According to a Google spokesman, the problem was solved on Thursday
night. He offered no details about its cause nor an explanation about
why it took Google so long to fix it. The spokesman said the problem
affected "a small number" of Gmail users, but declined to be more
specific.

The first problem reports started appearing in the official Google
Apps discussion forum on Wednesday. Google acknowledged that the
company was aware of a problem preventing Gmail users from logging
into their accounts and that it expected a solution by Thursday
evening.

In companies that were affected, Apps administrators told of very
tense situations, in some cases involving having to deal with
extremely upset CEOs and other high ranking executives who got locked
out of their email.

Google Apps is a suite of hosted collaboration and communication
software and services designed for workplace use. Its Standard and
Education versions are free. Its more sophisticated Premier edition
costs $50 (£29) per user per year and includes a 99.9 percent uptime
guarantee for the Gmail service.

In August, Gmail had three significant outages that affected not only
individual consumers of the free webmail service but also paying
Google Apps Premier customers. As a result, Google decided to extend a
credit to all Apps Premier customers and said it would do better at
notifying users of problems.

One outage lasted about two hours but affected almost all Apps Premier
users. The other two hit a small number of Apps Premier users, but
both outages were lengthy, affecting some users for more than 24
hours. In all of the incidents, users were unable to access their
Gmail accounts.

Like other software-as-a-service (SaaS) web-hosted office
collaboration and communications suites, Apps is an alternative to
applications that are run on customers' own hardware and managed by
their IT staffs.

SaaS suites like Apps are generally much cheaper, require little or no
maintenance by IT departments and are designed for web-based workgroup
collaboration.

However, customers must understand that they are trading off a level
of control. If the vendor experiences problems in its data center, the
performance and availability of the applications will be affected. In
those cases, IT and business administrators must simply wait for the
vendor to solve its problems.

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