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Google Gmail a blow for the Cloud?

Honestly I didn't notice a outage.

In the last year, the idea of "cloud computing" -- the transition of desktop computing functions like email and word processing to external servers managed by tech giants -- has gained an enormous amount of traction. Today, most tech observers agree that in the future, much of our data will be stored in "the cloud," a vast network of inter-connected web-based servers far removed from individual users.

But several recent high-profile outages of popular web-based services, including Twitter, Amazon's S3 storage system, Apple's MobileMe web software suite, and now Google's Gmail, raise serious questions about the reliability of cloud computing. (After a 90-minute, apparently system-wide outage, Google said the problem was fixed.)

The GMail outage affected millions of users in the middle of Monday afternoon. Consumers and businesses weighing whether to use Google's online suite of tools, Google Docs, have taken notice. "Given the amount of my digital life that is stored at Google, it's a wake-up call," wrote blogger Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins.
More here.


  1. I share your concerns, up to a certain extent. But on the other hand Gmail is free (and very poorly monetized via the ads that nobody ever clicks on) so they don't have to guarantee a permanent uptime. Google is known for using loads of cheap servers rather than a small number of expensive ones. The downside is that sometimes those cheap servers stop working, but without them we wouldn't have a free email with so much storage. (OK, there may be other ones now, but they all came about in response to Gmail.)

    There are other services, such as, which are web-based and yet they are very reliable (although they did have at least one major outage to my knowledge: ). Salesforce and other web-based services that customers need to pay for work on good and reliable servers as opposed to the endless racks of cheap servers used by Google. (In fact I believe Google too uses expensive servers for their paying customers, such as the businesses that use Google Apps.)

  2. Honestly, though, bad things happen to documents even on your own hard drive occasionally (viruses, bad sectors, etc.). And hardware sometimes fail, even in the personal computing world. And even on the biggest internal corporate networks, systems sometimes go down temporarily. I'm not that concerned yet.


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