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Google's Darkening Cloud

When I was having problems using my Gmail account the other day, I didn’t worry too much about it, although it did give me pause. (Is “loading” the new “hourglassing”?) But when I got into the office and saw some reports about major Google outages, curiousity turned into concern. Good thing Google doesn’t have a tech support hotline for Gmail (Good thing for Google, I mean.)

According to a report in Computerworld, there were some users who experienced outages that lasted more than 24 hours. The glitch also affected end users relying on the Google Apps suite of collaboration tools. Characteristically, Google provided little color as to the details of what happened and why. (How ironic would it be if, as dependency on Google increases, the company were to become every bit as unresponsive an info-bureaucracy as pre-divestiture AT&T ? )

In a nicely framed overview of the hazards of cloud computing, J. Nicholas Hoover over at Information Week cited other recent outages including one involving Citrix's GoToMeeting and another with Amazon’s Simple Storage Service. The article pointed out that IT managers should take a close look at their options including but not limited to “storing data with multiple service providers and regularly backing up SaaS data on on-premises servers.” Trouble is having to backup your own data from the cloud seems a bit off the mark.

Trusting the cloud in terms of reliability is huge issue. Savvy IT managers won’t hesitate to hold a service provider’s feet to the fire in terms of SLAs and service guarantees. In the meantime, Google, the standard bearer for cloud computing in many respects, should rethink its Walled Fortress approach, offer some transparency, and start talking more to customers and the industry in general about its commitment to these kinds of issues.

Do you think Google needs to change the way it does business as well as the way it positions itself as a company? Send me an email and let me know what you think or post here.

Posted by Tom Valovic on 08/25/2008 at 12:49 PM


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