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Wonder what's new at FindAnyFloor.com or in the technology world in general? Visit Damien's Blog to find out. You'll get some of the latest technology news, emerging trends, and stories from our CEO's travels, businesses and life experience among several industries.

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Damien's Blog

When Gmail Goes Down, The World Scrambles

By Damien Patton, (605 words) Posted in Corporate on September 2, 2009
There are (60) comments permalink

This week Google Mail experienced another worldwide outage, raising the question, how vulnerable are our businesses and personal lives to the mercy of the Internet? This was the third major interruption for Gmail this year. The iGoogle system was out in late February and again for hours on May 14th.

All the previous outages by Gmail received attention from the media, but yesterday's outage seemed to really grab their attention. What is the difference? This time, Twitter is now a major competitor to Google for Internet traffic, and when Gmail and other apps went down yesterday Twitter was a buzz for hours about the problems befalling Google. Twitter of course isn't without their growing pains, still trying to recover from the last denial of service attack. But let's face it, Twitter is a new comer and its place at the top of the internet is still to be determined.

Instantly during the Gmail blackout, thousands of blog, Twitter, and Facebook posts spread around the world. Many blogs posted that people have nothing to complain about because Gmail is free and what kind of reliability can you expect for free. First, we are not talking about a hobby mail account, or something hosted in Timbuktu. This is Google, the most powerful company in the world, and without a doubt, still the juggernaut online. How is it that any part of their system can still go down for a significant amount of time? You might say, everyone goes down; which is probably true. But, we are talking about a system that has so many backup and redundancies built in that their backups dwarf most competitors' entire systems. So again I ask, how can Gmail and other apps continue to be interrupted? The third major outage this year should be ringing an alarm bell to many that rely on this service. Google wants us to rely on them, and even though most of what they provide in apps is free, should the user expect that this powerhouse will let them down?

During the outage Google reported that mail was still available via POP or IMAP. But let's face it; the majority of users wouldn't know how to connect using these methods. They have become used to getting their mail on their desktop, iPhone, etc. Thousands of businesses that rely on Gmail found themselves losing out on sales, losing money in a worldwide economy where every sale is a must. Does this mean they should switch to other mail accounts, perhaps ones in which you have to pay? Google Apps Premier Edition is a paid version and it was still down and part of this outage. The answer of what to do may not be so black and white.

My opinion is that we are starting to experience what life might be like in the future, as the world becomes more dependent on technology. When we are all using the cloud for our information and it disappears, then what? The cloud is an entirely different subject that I will blog about later. No doubt that cloud computing is the future of the Internet, but how can we protect our businesses and personal lives from interruption giving that they may fail from time to time. Do we need to have back up methods for our backups?

Maybe during these downtimes we can spend the time taking a break from the day–to–day dependency on technology. Dare I say that you get out a pen and paper and mail a letter? I would, but since I do everything electronically, I don’t have envelopes or stamps and would need to ask someone where the post office is. Of course this is an exaggeration, but how close is this from becoming the truth for a lot of us who are technology dependent. Food for thought.

Icon: author blog About the Author:
Damien is the Founder and CEO of FindAnyFloor.com as well as several other technolgy businesses specializing in social media and search.
image: blog cloud comment

Comments (60)

Mike Donahue posted on: September 2, 2009

I was on Twitter when Google went down yesterday. If you didnt see it, the amount of Tweets was amazing that mentioned gmail or Google apps. I think people are really shocked when this happens. I for one am not. Big companies sometimes get in their own way. For Googles sake with companies like Facebook and Twitter nipping at their heals for traffic, I hope they get it sorted out.

WebDevInSeattle posted on: September 2, 2009

You are right, we are too dependent on Google and other technology. I have gmail and was so frustrated yesterday. I started a yahoo account but what does that really accomplish. I wonder how many people got other email accounts yesterday? I bet Google doesnt know the full impact for a while. When is Twitter going to get mail? If you find out please make a post.

steven posted on: September 9, 2009

"Google reported that mail was still available via POP or IMAP. But let's face it; the majority of users wouldn't know how to connect using these methods. They have become used to getting their mail on their desktop, iPhone etc."

*cough cough*

Grammar Nazi posted on: September 13, 2009

That's "...and when Gmail and other apps went down yesterday Twitter was ABUZZ for hours about the problems befalling Google."

Terry posted on: September 13, 2009

"Thousands of businesses that rely on Gmail found themselves losing out on sales, losing money in a worldwide economy where every sale is a must."

Being a little melodramatic there, aren't we? First of all, the vast majority of companies do not conduct actual transactions via email. Of those that do, I'm not buying that every single outgoing email that wasn't receive directly translated to a customer going "well you know what just never mind then, I'll take my money elsewhere".

I'm not saying google didn't drop the ball here, but there's no reason to become this indignant over a very short-term downtime from an otherwise very reliable service. More importantly, embellishing the impact this downtime had is completely uncalled for.

Gerald posted on: September 15, 2009

Gmail was down yesterday? When? For how long? I never even noticed.....I got all my emails when I was supposed to and sent as many as I got.

david posted on: September 28, 2009

Really? An email service went down. A web site wasn't available. Wow. The street lights were blinking in my town for over two hours the other day, then they came back on and it was green, yellow, red.

George posted on: October 9, 2009

No, everyone goes down. Yes Google is huge, but the amount of people and emails on gmail is also huge. Being down for a little time really isn't the end of the world.

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