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#gmailfail Arrogance | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

#gmailfail Arrogance

Google engineers faced extra difficulties in fixing the problem because the company uses Gmail internally

I don’t use gmail as my primary email service so I wasn’t affected personally that much went it went down. It affected work stuff for me, but I had ways to get around that issue. While reading about the gmail outage I came across an interesting piece of info: “According to the New York Times blog Gadgetwise, Google engineers faced extra difficulties in fixing the problem because the company uses Gmail internally”. There’s a number of conclusions that we can draw from this. A popular concept is that this is why cloud computing isn’t a great idea. While I don’t like cloud computing for other reasons, I don’t think gmail is the poster child for cloud backlash. If anything it shows how we need more than one way to communicate online. Not just email, not just via the web, not just twitter, not just sms etc. Unless there’s multiple services out there, we’re going to be in trouble when something like this happens again.

While a company should eat its own dogfood, when it’s a primary communication tool it might worth having a back up system. Arrogance that the service won’t ever fail isn’t really a great attitude for innovation. I haven’t come across how google communicated internally while the service was down, perhaps DM’s via twitter? Wouldn’t it be cool if a story comes out soon that a couple enterprising people inside the company built something on the fly so they could talk back and forth. It would show that they’re still innovative and have the skills to create something on the fly. Wouldn’t it be great for them to release the product asap? I’m sure the product wouldn’t look pretty but that’s where iteration come in. They could turn a massive failure into something positive. If they didn’t end build anything and relied on other company’s services to get themselves back on the grid—what does that suggest for their future?

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  • http://itellstories.org Sameer Vasta

    I think the “Google engineers faced extra difficulties in fixing the problem because the company uses Gmail internally” claim is a bit of sensationalism: while the Gmail website was down, IMAP was still up, as was Google Talk. I _highly_ doubt that the Google engineers were _that_ crippled because of the lack of a web interface. The media just likes the hyperbole.

  • http://designnotes.info/ michaelsurtees

    I don't use Google Talk so I had to take it at face value that NYT posted about their lack of communication via gmail. In any case I kind of question how moving servers could cause a major outage…