Google Apologizes For Gmail Outage

    August 12, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

A two-hour blip in Gmail’s availability spurred a rush of complaints both in and out of Google before the problem received a fix.

In a perfect world of software as a service, downtime exists as a curious idea, something people hear about but never actually see. The world is not perfect, and neither is SaaS, as users of Gmail discovered yesterday.

The service suffered an outage of a couple of hours on Monday as Google worked on fixing a balky contacts system. While some people could get in and read messages using the flat HTML interface, it only worked intermittently as some posters on Reddit noted.

Google came clean about the problem in a later post to the Gmail blog. Todd Jackson, Gmail Product Manager, wrote that they found the source of the problem, fixed it, and embarked on a search for other potential gotchas in the system.

“We don’t usually post about problems like this on our blog, but we wanted to make an exception in this case since so many people were impacted,” he said.

Jackson’s advice to people to hit resources like Google Groups or Gmail’s help center made little impression on Googling Google, where Garett Rogers pointed out the failings of this type of customer support.

“If this was truly limited to a ‘subset’ of users, and it happened to be affecting the Google Apps account your business uses to provide email to employees, what good is a simple user group?” he asked.

Situations like these bring back memories of early client/server applications, their failings, and the shift to the desktop PC model. The future may be in SaaS, but the problems it can suffer have been around for decades.