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Extended Gmail Outage Frustrates Admins

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the pulling-out-doesn't-sound-manly dept.

Communications 430

CWmike writes "A prolonged, ongoing Gmail outage has some Google Apps administrators pulling their hair out as their end users, including high-ranking executives, complain loudly while they wait for service to be restored. At about 5 p.m. US Eastern on Wednesday, Google announced that the company was aware of the problem preventing Gmail users from logging into their accounts and that it expected to fix it by 9 p.m. on Thursday. Google offered no explanation of the problem or why it would take it so long to solve the problem, a '502' error when trying to access Gmail. Google said the bug is affecting 'a small number of users,' but that is little comfort for Google Apps administrators. Admin Bill W. posted a desperate message on the forum Thursday morning, saying his company's CEO is steaming about being locked out of his e-mail account since around 4 p.m. on Wednesday. It's not the first Gmail outage. So, will this one prompt calls for a service-level agreement for paying customers? And a more immediate question: Why no Gears for offline Gmail access at very least, Google?"

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The benefits of cloud computing (5, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404157)

Someone else deals with all the problems, right?

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (5, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404263)

Remember folks, it's still in beta!

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (5, Insightful)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404589)

That's no excuse. When I need a word processor, I need it NOW, not tomorrow. I do not want my software to be dependent upon anything except my Cl drive. No net connection required.

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (3, Informative)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404629)

If Google doubts it's readiness for mission-critical usage it gets a "beta" slapped on it. Do real professionals actually think Google Apps is ready for prime time usage?

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404409)

yeah i was getting "invalid password" messages all day in outlook with gmail hosted accounts

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404507)

Yes. In your organization how many times have your servers went down or had a problem... Compare that to Google Mail... You will probably find that there is a lot less downtime. The problem is just like flying on an airplane. You are statically safer flying an airplane then driving. However because you fate isn't in your control you feel more scared then if you could just drive there yourself. The same thing with SaaS models, you actually get better service however because you don't have the same amount of control you feel like it is riskier. But it isn't

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (5, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404681)

because you don't have the same amount of control you feel like it is riskier. But it isn't

I have a real problem with "cloud computing" and the lack of control is just once piece. With google, there is no assurance that *my* problem is being worked on. *My* problem will get handled in the order in which it was reported. (if at all) To me, MY problem is the most important problem.

The problem with "cloud" computing, and probably the biggest IMHO, is the importance of "you" and your interests to the company providing your service. Suppose that you build your own business on a company providing virtual machine services. All is going well, you are profitable, and poof!! they decide to drop the service because it isn't profitable for them. What if they see what you are doing and say "hey, that's a great business idea, how does he do that, lets look at the code." and so on.

I could go on, but there is a lot to be said about "building" your own business, and my rule of thumb is: "Committing to a single vendor lock-in, in the long run, will always be worse than doing it yourself."

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404745)

If you paid a marginal fee. Then you are a paying customer, and your problem gets priority. If you just using a free service, then you are not that important, as you got it for free.
That being said. I have worked with many IT shops if the Email goes down the IT Guy is rarely interested in any ones persons emails but the server. What is the difference.

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (1)

rennerik (1256370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404739)

And also, I suppose, much like an airplane, is that when something happens, there's statistically a greater chance of a disaster.

So, I suppose, in this case a full day of downtime is pretty disastrous.

Go airplanes. And Gmail.

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (3, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404751)

Statistics aren't magical. It's entirely possible that a safe, conscientious driver is safer driving than flying (I haven't seen any statistics which break it down that way before.) There are a whole lot of considerations that need to go into a statistic like that for it to have any real meaning.

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (1)

jmelchio (681199) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404789)

I'm not sure what to think of the comparison of flying and driving statistics. Those statistics assume every driver has the same chance of getting into an accident as any other driver. This is obviously not the case (ask insurance companies) because some drivers are simply a lot better than other drivers even if they don't control all of the environment factors.

I assume the same can be said about system administration. It depends on the organization. Some organizations are very good at it and might do as well or better than Google. Others, well, you get the picture.

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (4, Insightful)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404585)

As somebody who admins google apps in a business environment, I can say, that is not what they have to offer. What they have to offer is up-time that is better than what internal solutions could ever possibly offer at a price an internal solution could not pray to beat. Is it 100%? Is it free? Nope, but neither is the exchange server in the basement. Do I control my data? Nope, but realistically the alternative would be to contract my data storage out to somebody else anyway.

Bill W. is probably taking heat because he sold google apps to his superiors as having 100% uptime with no disadvantages, which of course it does not.

Re:The benefits of cloud computing (0, Troll)

Jerry Beasters (783525) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404749)

So we're voting things insightful that are patently untrue now?

Offline mail access? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404181)

Yes, Gears is the answer. That way I can get my mail messages without any connectivity. Now THAT is innovation.

Re:Offline mail access? (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404479)

Does it include a reverse bayesian filter to generate stock market and h3rb@l \/i4gr@ spam?

Outage Outrage (4, Insightful)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404191)

It's a risk you take any time you let someone else handle something for you.

Re:Outage Outrage (2)

Xandar01 (612884) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404287)

This is what you get when you pick the cheaper option eh?

Re:Outage Outrage (3, Insightful)

mshannon78660 (1030880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404367)

It's a risk you take any time you let someone else handle something for you.

Specifically, it's a risk you take anytime you use a free service for something critical. You can't have an enforceable service level agreement for a free service - in order to be binding, a contract has to involve consideration from both sides.

Re:Outage Outrage (4, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404455)

That's just it, google DOES charge for the hosted apps version of Gmail. See http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/index.html [google.com] for more info.

Re:Outage Outrage (3, Informative)

mshannon78660 (1030880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404575)

If that's what they're using, then they do have recourse:

Google Apps for Business [google.com]

Claims right on that page that it provides 99.9% uptime.

Re:Outage Outrage (1)

Goodgerster (904325) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404713)

They aren't charging my company for the hosted apps version of it. Furthermore, it's working perfectly.

Re:Outage Outrage (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404477)

Have you not read what they are able to do with your private communications?

I would call that consideration.

More to the point though, I would say that if you can't afford downtime, pay for the SLA ($50/user/month).

Of course there credits are hardly an incentive to keep things working.

Re:Outage Outrage (2, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404747)

It's a risk you take any time you let someone else handle something for you.

Specifically, it's a risk you take anytime you use a free service for something critical. You can't have an enforceable service level agreement for a free service - in order to be binding, a contract has to involve consideration from both sides.

Having an "enforceable service level agreement" does not make things magically unbreakable.

One of the great business fallacies of our time...

A really smart provider will not sign a contract promising 100% uptime, but a stupid one will. Which one will deliver the better service? In practice, your real guarantee of reliability is quality work, and the best way to get quality work is hire the best and treat them well. Making them sign pieces of paper promising doom for failure does little or nothing useful.

I've been using Gmail all day, incidentally. Works fine for me - I've been corresponding with other gmail users no problem.

Re:Outage Outrage (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404641)


It's a risk you take any time you let someone else handle something for you.

It's a risk you take, period. You're trying to tell me that you can guarantee no unplanned downtime if you were to handle it yourself?

Re:Outage Outrage (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404655)

It's a risk you take if you do it yourself. However the Outrage will be dished to you...

"including high-ranking executives" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404195)

Uh oh. Beware the wrath of a herd of angry PHBs.

Stallman is laughing (5, Funny)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404197)

Is that the sound of cloud computing advocates crying, or the sound of Richard Stallman laughing?

Re:Stallman is laughing (0)

runlevelfour (1329235) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404245)

Not to mention it is a "free" service, no one has a right to demand it to be up anyway. You are storing your e-mail on google's servers and you pay nothing for it. If they need access to their crucial time-sensitive data then they should keep it themselves or pay for a service which will guarantee availability.

Re:Stallman is laughing (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404307)

According to TFA this is also affecting paying customers.

Re:Stallman is laughing (1)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404325)

Keep in mind what they are probably talking about is the paid service you can get through Gmail Apps. For most people, yes, gmail is free with a personal account, but there are whole organizations who have their email hosted with Gmail. Think of it as hosted Exchange without Exchange.

If it's a free service, then yes, caveat emptor. But if someone is paying for this, then there should be a higher level of service or at least explanations of what happened or why it went wrong.

Re:Stallman is laughing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404505)

I think you're mistaken there. The idea that anyone would pay for gmail is laughable. It's free dude! check it out.

Re:Stallman is laughing (5, Interesting)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404633)

Have you really looked at it? I mean actually go to the Google Apps page at looked at it, or did you just hit reply without knowing. Oh, who am I kidding, this is /. and I'm lucky you read any of my message.

Seriously, here's a link to the Google Apps business page [google.com] . Look around. This isn't free stuff. I'm not sure why you scoff at this and not other business webmail applications. There...do you see that...do you see how Gmail isn't always free?

My point remains...if they paid for it, Google owes them an explanation.

Re:Stallman is laughing (2, Informative)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404353)

Not to mention it is a "free" service, no one has a right to demand it to be up anyway. You are storing your e-mail on google's servers and you pay nothing for it. If they need access to their crucial time-sensitive data then they should keep it themselves or pay for a service which will guarantee availability.

Some of these companies are paying customers. The headline only mentions Gmail, but this is also about Google Apps as a whole.

Re:Stallman is laughing (1)

itp (6424) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404427)

That's not exactly true. The articles in question make it sound like these are users of Google Apps, a paid service that provides standard Google Apps (like GMail, Docs, etc.) customized for your organization/domain, at a cost per user.

The sound of Google FUD. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404253)

There's lots of distortion here. RMS says a lot of things but only a few messages are ever amplified by the mainstream press. You won't get more freedom from cloud computing but the rest of this is a tempest in a teapot. Google is a reliable service.

Better check your backups... (1, Redundant)

rarel (697734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404215)

After all, it's "only a beta", eh?

Re:Better check your backups... (1, Insightful)

EncryptedSoldier (1278816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404243)

lmao yeah really...i know google gives all the excuses in the world as to why they still consider it a beta, but c'mon. It's just an excuse so when shit like this happens they can point their fingers at the subscript and say "well it's beta"!

Re:Better check your backups... (2, Informative)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404561)

Um. I can't find where they made this excuse...

Re:Better check your backups... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404657)

http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/33131

Re:Better check your backups... (1)

EncryptedSoldier (1278816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404663)

you got it! i read that article too!

If you need something done right do it yourself! (5, Insightful)

EncryptedSoldier (1278816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404217)

You can't count on Google to run your IT...sorry buddy. Using Google may be cost effective, but the obvious trade off is that someone else is really doing your job, and if that person drops the ball, then you really screwed the pooch, at least that's what your boss will think.

Re:If you need something done right do it yourself (4, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404321)

The thing is someone will always drop the ball. In this case, the CEO can't chew out the guy in IT who pooched the email server and is working frantically trying to get it back up and running because that guy works for a different company. Or do people honestly think that an internally-run email server never has problems?... Just because it's Google does not mean it's infallible.

Re:If you need something done right do it yourself (2, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404337)

So you think most companies have better IT departments than Google? I agree that using a free beta software to run mission-critical software is probably unwise, but there are other providers that offer way more uptime than probably most internal IT departments could manage. Pair Networks, etc. It will cost money, though.

Re:If you need something done right do it yourself (1)

EncryptedSoldier (1278816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404595)

Well that's the point. You can either do it yourself, outsource to another company, or use a beta product (i guess that's an option of its own). The unfortunate fact is: When the boss man gets mad, he's going to get mad at a tangible, human being, whom he holds somewhat responsible. He's not going to get mad at the idea of a hard working IT department in another state. In this world, most people like to point fingers, and especially if it is your idea to outsource your email and such, you need to expect fingers being pointed at you when there is a problem.

Re:If you need something done right do it yourself (2, Insightful)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404607)

The thing is, if I am going to take a screamin' reamin' from the boss, I prefer it be for something that is either my fault or that I can do something about. While a normal human can grasp these issues, some admin-types seem to think that if they throw a big enough shit hemorrhage that it will force the IT people to fix the problem. Tough to do when it is outside of their control.

Re:If you need something done right do it yourself (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404525)

Because every company can afford redundant internet connections, back up generators, a fall over mail server, and a 24/7 IT staff and I don't mean some poor guy with a cell phone and no life.

Re:If you need something done right do it yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404583)

Hey, I'm a poor guy with a cell phone and no life, you insensitive clod.

Re:If you need something done right do it yourself (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404555)

Umm. No.
You blame Google your boss will blame google... Unless he just doesn't like you and he will yell at you for anything. I bet you will be in a Lot more trouble if your Email server went down because he can more directly blame you.

Re:If you need something done right do it yourself (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404651)

Email can be a pain, but it is worthwhile have your servers. A 'Management' problem for moving it to google and not the admins problem i suspect.

Give it to someone else and lose control (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404223)

If you give something to someone else you are no longer in control of it. Email is a critical business tool, I'll not be giving mine away any time soon.

Re:Give it to someone else and lose control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404343)

Curious [slashdot.org] if they are "improving" their email "reader".

Re:Give it to someone else and lose control (1)

pfarber (1123907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404355)

I concur. At least you will be able to work around the issue if its on site and within your control. Posting your cries to a support forum is not my idea of administering a system.

Now would be a great time to convince the CEO to bring it in house... and show how valuable your skills are next round of raises.

If its just a font end issue can't you access mail via POP3 of other way? The mail isn't bouncing is it?

These guys need a brain transplant... (5, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404249)

"Admin Bill W. posted a desperate message on the forum Thursday morning, saying his company's CEO is steaming about being locked out of his e-mail account"

Run your own damned mail server if it's THAT IMPORTANT. Seriously, it's not hard to set one up, and you've obviously got the money to do it.

Once again, it's a case of rich people with more money than brains having the problems. Nothing important here, nothing of value lost.

it can go both ways (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404327)

I've been at plenty of places that run their own mailservers where uptime is considerably worse than Gmail's, so it'd be an improvement to offload it. The biggest problem seems to be at medium-sized shops: big enough for there to be problems, but not so big that you have some sort of massively redundant setup with transparent failover and 24/7 staffing. The ideal of the cloud-computing style of outsourcing is that you'd outsource to someone who was big enough to have a massively redundant setup with transparent failover and 24/7 staffing. However Google seems not to have delivered on that ideal.

Re:it can go both ways (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404759)

There must be some bad mail (server) admin then or a bad stick of RAM in the server. I maintain a very high uptime throughout a typical business day and I only have a single server. The most the server has been down during business is 2 hours and in that time I had to rebuild half the machine. Even Exchange which I utterly hate doesn't have that much downtime.

In my philosophy, if you can't recover your e-mail system from a disaster within 4 business hours you're doing something wrong (in my opinion) and you either have to fire your admin, spend some money on a backup system, split it up in some fashion (per department, per site etc.) or you have to replace your e-mail system. The problem with giving your e-mail to a hosting provider without any control is that you can't guarantee that to your customers.

These days setting up Postfix with a synchronized MySQL database (or other database) and a parallel storage backend is not a big deal anymore and those type of systems are so flexible there is really no excuse to have a large amount of downtime if you can afford a backup system. I will do it for you under $20,000 including hardware and you should be able to support up to 2000 users with it.

Re:These guys need a brain transplant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404351)

Run your own damned mail server if it's THAT IMPORTANT. Seriously, it's not hard to set one up, and you've obviously got the money to do it.

Yeah, that's the first thing I thought of.

The second thing was, what if my server goes down (and it will). Who has more and better trained support staff, me or Google?

Re:These guys need a brain transplant... (2, Insightful)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404563)

Who is running a single mail server that should be easily recoverable in a few hours? Who is running a service used my millions with complications I probably can't even fathom?

They might be "better" at running world class stuff than you, but you can be better at running simple stuff. Veritas, Acronis, etc... take your pick and you are back up and running. That probably isn't true for Google.

Re:These guys need a brain transplant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404497)

Can't agree more. You can even do it for almost nothing, except the cost of the hardware and the internet connection. I've put friend's businesses on a small Linux box with Postfix and shared all my configurations with them, and it's been bulletproof ever since.

I put together a small box for my 40 person company for around $800, and the only time we have downtime is either when we have a power outage that lasts longer then our UPS's, hardware failures (bad stick of ram), and kernel updates.

In other words, my uptime so far, has been longer then Google's. I point that out during my annual reviews. :)

Re:These guys need a brain transplant... (5, Insightful)

Rary (566291) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404501)

Run your own damned mail server if it's THAT IMPORTANT. Seriously, it's not hard to set one up, and you've obviously got the money to do it.

Right. Because some nerdy 20-something admin with a copy of "Sendmail for Dummies" can do a much better job than all the engineers at Google.

This is a paid service offered by one of the largest and most knowledgeable technology companies around. They should be able to do a much better job than any internal IT department. There are arguments in favour of doing it yourself, but there are definitely arguments in favour of outsourcing to a competent provider, which Google should be.

This is a PR disaster for Google.

Re:These guys need a brain transplant... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404763)

doing a much better job than any internal IT dept. != never fails

SaaS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404255)

This is just a test of the Software-as-a-Service model.

Google provides the service , free of charge, and lets see what kind of uptime users expect.

Want 99.99 uptime? pay 9.99 a month say.

Want 99.999 uptime, pay 99.99 a month say.

This will be the future of computing.

Let someone else host your data, for a small monthly fee.

Let someone else host your email, for a small monthly fee.

"Lease" a computer, for a "small monthly fee".

use an operating system for a small monthly fee.

It will work just like your cellphone. You will be allowed to "bundle" services saving you say 15% on your 'small monthly fees'.

Say goodbye to the personal computer, say hello to your 'network terminal'.

Re:SaaS (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404447)

It sounds good to me...
$99.99 a month for 99.999% uptime is actually a good deal. I can't beat that, with running my own server at work for that cost I only have enough money to charge a guy to check out the server for 15 minutes a day. I might if I am lucky get 99.9% uptime from that.

This doesn't prevent you from getting your own computer and doing whatever you want however for most people who are willing and able to play and pay by the rules they are probably paying less, even in the long run.

If you are unwilling or unable to follow by the rules for this model, they will still sell computers, you can still get your own OS, if not Windows and OS X Linux will still be around.

Saas is actually a good model. It lets you focus on your business not the IT.

WTF? I see no outage. (0)

anomalous cohort (704239) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404273)

Huh? I was logged in to gmail all day yesterday and am logged in today. I am receiving and sending plenty of email from that account. What's the problem?

Re:WTF? I see no outage. (1)

squisher (212661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404349)

Huh? I was logged in to gmail all day yesterday and am logged in today. I am receiving and sending plenty of email from that account. What's the problem?

Uhm, please read at least the freakin' summary! It says right there that not all users are affected...

Re:WTF? I see no outage. (2, Funny)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404365)

Is that you, brenda@viagra.com?

Re:WTF? I see no outage. (2)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404599)

I use (free) Gmail through Thunderbird and IMAP, and have been getting timeouts and spurious authentication failures for months.

Sometimes you do get what you paid for, but it was pretty smooth for a while.

Betcha (0, Troll)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404279)

Nobody saw this coming, huh? He he he...sorry man... ha ha ha... really I am... HAHAHA... No, I'm serious... BWAHAHAHA!!!

Remember, gmail is still beta! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404293)

I bet you that "Gmail is still in beta" will be their excuse, after all is said and done.

POP/IMAP (2, Interesting)

superphreak (785821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404301)

Why no Gears for offline Gmail access at very least, Google?
I believe it's called POP/IMAP access, and it's been around a long time. Oh, downside - you might need a program called Outlook/Express or Thunderbird. Free download available. [mozilla.com]

Beta means never having to say you're sorry. (3, Funny)

Orgasmatron (8103) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404311)

Who puts important mailboxes on a beta service? Sheesh.

You get what you pay for! (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404313)

Complaining about a FREE service makes no sense (assuming the CEO isn't paying Google that is). It's says a lot more about the steaming CEO than it says about Google reporting and working on the problem.

It seems that CEO's really are spoiled brats, at least in this case. Maybe he'll take his golden parachute while he's steaming and leave the minions in his company to get to the real work of the company.

Depending on outside companies for your email is like depending on string while mountain climbing. It's bound to break. In fact I'm surprised that there are not more visible problems with Google's services. They've seemed to be able to hide their inevitable glitches quite well.

Every system you use and depend on can fail. Prepare for it. Choose which systems you support yourself and which you rely on outsiders to deliver. While no man is an island it doesn't make any sense to have too many critical path dependencies on others either. Balance.

Re:You get what you pay for! (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404377)

Doesn't anyone RTFA?

Google Apps is a suite of hosted collaboration and communication software and services designed for workplace use. Its Premier edition costs US$50 per user per year and includes a 99.9% 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 vowed to improve its problem-notification methods.

$50/yr for each user is not "free". Nor is it in the domain of "you get what you pay for". $50 per user is actually a rather significant sum when we're talking about 100+ user companies.

Re:You get what you pay for! (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404433)

However,

The maximum hit is refunding you $50 per user.

And the likely maximum hit is refunding you only for the downtime.

We are sorry your email was down... here is your ($50/365 ) * 2 = 27 cent refund.

Re:You get what you pay for! (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404397)

I see you skipped on RTFA in best /. tradition; the whole problem is not with free users being locked out but PAYING premium google app customers being left in the dark.

That's SaaS for you... (3, Insightful)

scsirob (246572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404317)

This is the main reason not to turn to Software as a Service. Sure, it's nice to just rent some functionality, but you are not in control of your own destiny. What if Google decides that GMail no longer fits their business model? Poof...

Re:That's SaaS for you... (2, Insightful)

tshak (173364) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404531)

If you ran your mail server off a single $499 dell workstation you'd probably have availability problems as well. This is not a problem inherent with SaaS, it's a problem with using a consumer grade mail service for a corporate mail.

Re:That's SaaS for you... (1)

truesaer (135079) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404547)

The problem here is not that they've outsourced an IT function, but that they outsourced it without a service level agreement.

It might be worth it for some companies to accept a bit of downtime in order to have Google handle this for me. If companies really need to guarantee a certain level of uptime then they really ought to be using a contractor or service that contractually provides it. If it is damaging their business rather than just being a really annoying inconvenience then I put at least half the blame on bad management for not having an appropriate contract in place.

Re:That's SaaS for you... (1, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404611)

So if you were in control of your destiny then your email servers may still be down however you are the one the needs to fix the problem...

Also there is a case of being smart with you SaaS models, You can often get it so you can get your own data back when you request it. If GMail no longer fits their business model. Well move the data to an other SaaS. Email is kinda easy to move around.

You sound like a guy who is afraid to Fly. Even though you may be statically better off flying then driving however if you don't have the control in your hands you are more nervous.

at its very worst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404323)

Google is still about 10x better than most servers run by the U. S. Gov't. Which is why so many USG people use it :-)

including this anon coward.

It's beta for a reason. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404329)

In fact isn't nearly every google app beta.

why no offline? (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404379)

because offline access

means you aren't using google. and we dont want that now do we?

tell the CEO to stuff it. it was probably one of his mid level jerkoffs who decided outsourcing a critical business application to a 3rd party vendor with little accountability and no SLA whatsoever would be 'good for initech'

I for one have no bad feelings about the outage.

There is an SLA for paying customers (5, Informative)

Que_Ball (44131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404405)

Quote from article: So, will this one prompt calls for a service-level agreement for paying customers?

Paying customers of the apps Premium account level DO have a service level agreement.

Free customers do not however which is probably what they were trying to say.

Revised quote: So, will this one prompt calls for a service-level agreement for free customers in addition to paying customers?

From the terms of service for Premier account edition:
http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/terms/premier_terms.html [google.com]

1.9. *Service Level Agreement*, or *SLA* means the Service Level Agreement located at the following URL: http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/admins/sla.html [google.com]

Downtime period is a period of ten consecutive minutes of Downtime

Service Credit is
three days of service added to the end of your term at no charge for monthly uptime percentage between 99.0 and 99.9
seven days for between 99.0 and 95.0
fifteen days for worse than 95.0 uptime percentage.

You must request your service credit. It is not automatic.

Go outside... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404419)

Go outside, see more sunshine. 4'get'bout'IT email a day.

Bill W. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404425)

I guess we know what drove him to drink, now.

Google SLA (4, Informative)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404453)

http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/terms/sla.html [google.com]

There you go, the SLA for Google Apps. It's listed at 99.9%

But... the remedies for them failing that suck, only up to 15 days worth of service per month will be credited.

Also, it costs $50 per user per year

How long before we se "cloud appliances"? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404463)

If I were Microsoft, I'd look at a situation like this and see an opportunity to use my existing software products as an asset in pushing my own "cloud computing" or "software as a service" or whatever it is these days initiative.

The rough outline of the scheme would look something like this: put together a lightly modified variant of Exchange, call it "Cloudspare Server" and make it available in either binary or appliance form, at low cost, to enterprise customers who purchase outsourced email services from you. The "Cloudspare server" box would sit there, synchronizing with MS's email servers from time to time, and would be available as an emergency backup should the "cloud" services be unavailable.

Since the expected service of the local server would be only a few hours a year, at worst, it could be relatively conservatively specced, and thus cheap, while still offering something rather than nothing in the event of downtime.

Google, or anybody else, could obviously do something similar, as they also have experience with packaging certain of their services as appliances; but MS has the advantage of already having an accepted product that could be modified to suit.

No problem logging into Gmail here (0)

kindbud (90044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404465)

WTF. I logged in just now and read/replied to mails without a problem. Check the Windows Firewall on the CEO's computer, maybe?

Re:No problem logging into Gmail here (1)

pugugly (152978) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404609)

I work nights - used it at work yesterday, checked it today when I got into work, haven't had an issue?

Pug

RTFBlurb (1)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404733)

Read the blurb for crying out loud. It says it only affects a small number of users. You aren't one of them, so relax...

der (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404499)

That's some smart CEO, using an unsecured gmail account for his executive correspondence. I wish the article had mentioned the company so I could sell all of my shares immediately..

'a small number of users,' (1)

a2wflc (705508) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404509)

Every gmail bug that affects 'a small number of users,' has affected me. Is my account that special or is their definition of 'small' different than mine? Maybe because 99% uses the number 99 which is small compared to 4294967296.

Hey my account work... (1)

Dwarth (300904) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404543)

Why should I care about a CEO account.... if it's not my company CEO (of course)

T-Mobile G1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404545)

Does anyone know how GMail outages affect the newly released G1 cell phone? I know you have to have an account, but what if you can't log in? Can you still make calls?

No google gears because... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404549)

... in gmail is most likely because of the ads! I see ads in my newsfeedbar and on the side when I'm reading email. That is why they are not going to google gear gmail in my opinion, whether this will change or not I am uncertain but they certainly gain a hell of a lot of insight into what a user wants by being able to use gmail to comb the emails for context relative ads. Most people don't give a flying f-ck what comes in and goes out of their email, they use it like any other communication device. Many personal things are said by email partially for convenience and partially because of the stupidity of the majority of end users. As always ignorance and convenience trumps privacy when it comes to the internet.

Outsourced Monoculture (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404557)

Outsourcing links in your essential service chains is risky enough. Outsourcing them to a single point of failure is too risky. So many independent places all outsourcing something so central to so many service chains is unacceptably risky.

I would never rely on GMail without a local cache of all the content GMail holds, or without a truly alternate server to serve my messages when GMail goes down, as it clearly does some percentage of the time.

"Hi, Bill!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25404649)

Admin Bill W. posted a desperate message on the forum Thursday morning, saying his company's CEO is steaming about being locked out of his e-mail account...

Bill W. then followed up with a simple method of fixing Gmail in just 12 steps.

Friends! (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404685)

Bill W.? He has more friends than Tom!

-Peter

PS: As always, remember that there is no "I don't get it." moderation option.

Semi-Offtopic : Hey! Google Home just changed! (1)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404727)

Totally different appearance all of a sudden. Tabs are on the left now. Did I miss something or did this just happen?

Hey, we'll outsouce it to the "cloud" and save! (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25404783)

Considering that Google charges $50/yr/user for business email, they have far too many long outages. At that price point, they should be fully redundant across multiple data centers.

Welcome to "cloud computing". It's not your cloud.

"Hey! You! Get off of my cloud Don't hang around 'cause two's a crowd On my cloud." - some '60s band.

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