FT : Gmail Users Fall Off Their Clouds
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Google’s e-mail service, used by more than 100m people, suffered a global crash on Tuesday, raising concerns about the world’s growing reliance on web services. The Gmail outage lasted more than two hours from about 1.30am on the US West Coast, hitting users in Europe and Asia hardest as America slept. Google said its monitoring systems had alerted it that consumer and business accounts worldwide could not access e-mail and apologised for the inconvenience. It is the worst outage to date for Gmail, a browser-based e-mail service that has been growing at 40% a year and gaining on its bigger rivals, Yahoo Mail and Microsoft’s Hotmail. Gmail has more than 113m users worldwide, according to the ComScore research firm, compared with 283m Hotmail users and 274m Yahoo account holders. The crash is a blow to Google’s ambitions to grow business e-mail and applications that it delivers over the internet…..Google reported a two-hour Gmail outage last August but did not reveal the source of the crash. Consumers do not have direct access to technical support if they suffer a problem with the free service…..
Users’ confidence in web services has also been dented by Google’s decision to close or not maintain several of its products this year, including Google Notebook, a service that allows users to collect and store information from the web. Ma.gnolia, an online bookmarking service, said last week it had been unable to recover users’ data lost in a corrupted database. “Cloud” computing, where companies and individuals trust their data to services run remotely over the web, is being rapidly adopted as it offers cheaper services that are easy to update. Gmail’s failure illustrates there is also a downside to not keeping applications on the PC’s hard drive and in the company’s own IT centre.