The real goof-up

Gmail was down for a couple of hours, and someone wrote this story-

It’s too bad the National Transportation Safety Board can’t investigate Google to find out just why Gmail crashed Tuesday as Google’s explanations for its outages (via its dashboard) are short and kindergarten-like.

The NTSB would seek out the root cause of the outage, hold hearings and issue a report with recommendations for fixing the problem. But Google follows the standard operating practice of cloud and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) providers, and that is to tell customers as little as possible about an outage. They treat their customers like dumb bunnies.

To be fair, the author is writing in the context of government agencies moving to Google Apps and their accountability in case of such outages. But of what use is such accountability, the kind that he implies, when the risk of an outage can never be completely eliminated? Most companies, and now government agencies, will move to services like those of Google (or Microsoft, or Amazon) precisely because of the fact that the service offered is better than what they enjoy presently. If someone has the technical capability to provide a service, any service, with a zero downtime guarantee (withstand power outages, missile strikes, terror attacks, earthquakes and every disaster Man, and God, can throw at you), more power to him. But to only see the downside without comparing it to the present scenario, and then talk of accountability and probes by government agencies is asinine to say the least. Private companies are not white as snow, and a lot of them can be downright nasty, but when compared to the services provided by governments, they are infinitely better.

I could probably say a few more things on the story, but some comments are just great. Like-

I find the treatment of Gmail’s reliability to be rather humorous. In isolation, Gmail going down is certainly not a good thing, but when these kinds of articles are printed without the context of normal corporate mail reliability, the author comes across as a joke. For the company I work for (large corporation) and my client (government entity), reliability and availability of mail is substantially less than Gmail… Is Google perfect? No. Is Google up front about causes of their outages? No, but neither are any of my subcontractors. Is current corporate and government e-mail systems better? Absolutely not.


Let me guess, the writer would like to see a Czar appointed to oversee google and make sure it runs it business model correctly. This writer is a clown and should be running around the circus cleaning up the elephant poop, versus trying to sound like the next ObamaCzar


Yes, we need a tax-leaching, bloated, parasitic government agency from the nanny state investigating a private corporation’s failure to deliver 100% service. If any paying customers lost business, then the courts will take a look at the contract between the customer and Google. It’s not any business of the executive branch just so freebie loading tantrum-throwers can be calmed. May be reading up the terms of service would have been a good use of time while gmail was down. Especially if the author is a free gmail user.

and the best of them all-

“but if something goes wrong with LA’s IT systems, at least there is still a clear line of accountability to the managers responsible and an opportunity to probe.” This is bullsh** what matters is total uptime not ridiculous time wasting CYA “probes” and “lines of accountability”. What you are advocating is the bureaucratic time-wasting policies that have made governments the laughing stock when it comes to efficiency. Risk can never be eliminated, you can only define an acceptable level and stick with it. If you don’t learn to accept risk you are doomed to create ever increasingly complex/inefficient systems to attempt the impossible which is creating a closed system.

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