Open Thread: How Much Do You Trust Your Web Apps?

The news that Gmail went down this morning (UK time) got me thinking about how we increasingly rely on third parties for essential business services. With a proliferation of web apps offering to meet our every business need and the inexorable rise of cloud computing, are we investing too much trust in them?

Fortunately, I have Offline Gmail support enabled, which meant that I could at least continue working on emails received overnight while Gmail was down. But judging by the outpouring of angst on Twitter, many people had a pretty unproductive morning, with some four hours of downtime.

Gmail appears to be back up now, but you can bet that this won’t be the last time a major web app suffers downtime. While we can probably be reasonably confident that Google has the engineering talent to recover from most failures quite quickly (especially as Google’s paid-for Google For Domains users have a service-level agreement, including an uptime guarantee of 99.9 percent), we’ve seen many services suffer from a lack of continued support and investment, and some that disappear altogether.

Are we putting too much faith in services that we have no control over? Do you have a backup plan in place in case a critical part of your workflow goes down?

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