For all those who say email is dead, I would point to today’s 20-minute-or-so Gmail outage, which freaked out a good number of Gmail users, tech companies, and of course, the reporters covering them. Some of them pay for Gmail so an outage of any kind is sort of a big deal.
But before you start yelling about the notorious unreliability of cloud and the good old days of on-premises Lotus Notes and Exchange Server, let me just say I worked at a Microsoft Exchange shop not all that long ago and we lost our email a few times a year for a day or two at a time. I suspect that was due to internal IT issues, but it didn’t matter to users. DAYS not minutes, people!
TechCrunch has an interesting story about an apparently unrelated Gmail bug that results in one poor Hotmail user getting thousands of empty email messages. Also don’t forget the great Yahoo webmail outage of December 2013, when users lost mail access for two days.
So this latest Gmail glitch is all pretty small potatoes, but it made for some good tweets.
FWIW, Reddit is hosting an AMA session at noon PST Friday with the Google Site Reliability Engineering team. Timing is everything.
Update: On Friday afternoon, Google posted this update about the outage, which it acknowledged affected some users for 30 minutes, and resolved to file a more detailed post mortem of what went wrong later.
Note: This story was updated at 6:02 a.m. PST Saturday January 25 with a note about Google’s blog post apologizing for the outage.