Gmail Down on August 11. Concerns About Cloud Computing Arise.

By August 14, 2008

It appears that a prudent safeguard to the Web 2.0 environment is to not put all of your eggs in one basket. On Monday, August 11, Google users across the United States, Canada, and India were unable to access their online e-mails and documents for about two hours. Upon logging into Gmail, users received a 502 error. Todd Jackson, Gmail Product Manager, attributed the problem to a temporary outage in their contacts system. As of 6 p.m. ET on Monday, the issue has been resolved, according to Gmail’s official


In light of this failure, critics have voiced concerns about the increasing centralization of content and e-mail history, also known as cloud computing, because of the devastating effects should it fail. Whereas Gmail content is centralized, enterprise email services mirror content locally, which precludes the data from being lost should a server fail. At crucial times, the inability to reach documents and email can be crippling to a business. One solution is Google Sync, a service that mimics the mirroring of enterprise e-mails such as Microsoft Outlook and Apple iMail, but many consider syncing a complicated and time-consuming process.

Gmail proponents point to Gmail’s quick uptime and highlight that this was a rare failure. They argue that paid hosts have slower uptimes and fail more often.

The outage demonstrates the great dependency that people have for Google documents and the Gmail service. Twitter, a popular micro-blogging and social networking Web site, registered nearly 100 complaints a minute during the downtime.

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