Google calls Gmail outage ‘minor issue’, but thousands beg to differ

By Nate Mook, Betanews

Has Google issued an apology about today’s Gmail outage, or is the company trying to downplay the issue?

We’re not really sure.

In a blog post this afternoon, Google engineering director David Besbris wrote, “We know many of you are having trouble accessing Gmail right now — we are too, and we definitely feel your pain. We don’t usually post about minor issues here (the Apps status dashboard and the Gmail Help Center are usually where this kind of information goes). Because this is impacting so many of you, we wanted to let you know we’re currently looking into the issue and hope to have more info to share here shortly.”

“We feel your pain” seems to be a new recurring Google slogan. It’s the same exact thing the company said one year ago when Gmail went down for 15 hours.

But more disconcerting is Google’s remark that “we don’t usually post about minor issues.” To tens of thousands of Gmail users who immediately took to Twitter, Facebook and blogs to express their frustration, no such outage would be considered minor. E-mail remains a crucial artery in which most important communication flows around the Internet.

Although it was only down for two hours, the Gmail outage — and Google’s response — highlight the problems of migrating critical services to the cloud, and raise questions of what level of service should be expected. Most users do not pay for Gmail or Google Apps, but they still rely entirely on Google to keep the services up and running. Are we asking too much?

As we continue marching toward cloud-based applications, these questions will be at the forefront of the industry. If Google can’t stop their hosted apps from breaking, then nobody can.

Will companies be willing to switch to Web versions of Microsoft Office, Photoshop, or other important tools when a multi-hour outage could literally halt work right in the middle of the day?

Copyright Betanews, Inc. 2009

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