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Why Google’s recent service outages scare the hell out of me.

I love Google. Their search and online advertising services are simply fantastic! Their Google Apps productivity suite is innovative, and especially their Gmail service has become one of most popular web-based email services. As a matter of fact, our firm has been configuring the same for a good number of our clients to use with their domain names. Thats why, for the first time, I am really worried about Google’s recent service outages.

Google is renown for having iron clad services. They have the world’s most popular search engine. Personally, I don’t know how I could run my business without Google Search – its simply indispensable. Last week, I had a real hard time accessing Google’s Kenya web site at http://www.google.co.ke. For some time there, it was impossible to access the home page. At the same time, the Google Uganda web site at http://www.google.co.ug was (apparently?) hacked this past week for a period of time (Google?! Hacked?! Amazing!). Then, on Thursday this past week, millions of Google Apps users we’re affected world wide making it impossible for them to work online.

In a nutshell, it doesn’t look good. It would seem that there are some very serious service delivery issues popping up at Google. Could these be a result of growing too fast and not putting in the right controls to ensure reliable service delivery? At the same time, as more and more businesses start to rely on Google’s services for mission-critical tasks, could this be the first indicator of the risks inherent in using “the cloud” exclusively? I get the impression that cloud computing, the emerging paradigm where applications run online, instead of using “in-house” client and server infrastructure, may not be ready for prime time.

Google’s recent problems are also worrying because a large number of organizations and individuals in Kenya are turning to “cloud” offerings for core operational functions. In light of the impending “go live” for the SEACOM and TEAMS high speed under sea data cables in Kenya, we can expect that faster and better internet access will result in more and more organizations signing up for cloud-based services as the cost-effective and highly efficient alternative.

Going forward, I see a very urgent need for organizations and individuals to take a long hard look at the pros and cons of using cloud-based services such as Google Apps. For sure, the services are great but one needs to have contingency measures for the inevitable when they fail. There are lots of free and open source softwares that businesses and individuals can use for their productivity needs without relying entirely on the cloud, for now at least.

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5 Comments

  1. May 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm — Reply

    Beautiful write up, fantastic observation

  2. Musty
    May 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    My Gmail was hacked into and an advert for topstrade.com sent to all my contacts. I was thinking of switching to google chrome but i think i’ll stick with mozilla for now…

  3. May 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm — Reply

    Much of the Google outage in Kenya was for Access Kenya users.

    And euhm, most of us are using Google for free, so what are we really complaining about? It’s always good to have a plan B, I am not scared at all.

  4. May 20, 2009 at 8:01 am — Reply

    We had to think about this last year. My boss and I used Google Calendar for planning purposes. It worked great until one day none of the entries showed up on her view of the calendar. We went back and forth for a good month trying to figure out the problem. I even perused the help files, to no avail.

    I think it’s important to remember that little “beta” word Google has attached to gmail and its other services.:-)

  5. May 20, 2009 at 6:59 pm — Reply

    Yes this is certainly a problem especially if it is getting hacked. Allot of focus goes on the larger domains like .co.uk and .com and possibly kenya and uganda are futher down the list.. saying that it doesnt make sense as all there services port each other.

    all the same good is too big and to valuable to go down and they will sort it.

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