Google says a system error resulting in a Web traffic jam in Asia led to the early-morning outage of Google News and Gmail, two essential components of the search engine giant. While the outages of services such as Gmail are usually only temporary, the popularity of these Google services often means that any problem instantly becomes news.
experienced slowdowns and outages to its Google News
and Gmail services on the morning of May 14.
Users of those services reacted in a variety of ways. On Twitter, which has
a search function that allows for a near-real-time survey of what people are
microblogging on various topics, users alternately shrugged off the outage or expressed
harsher opinions. "I didn't even know about the outage until [I] saw [the]
news," one wrote, while another opined, "Epic fail whale this
Users reported that other Google services, such as YouTube, were also showing
In a statement sent to eWEEK, a Google spokesperson said:
Earlier today, Google News was
temporarily unavailable for many users, from approximately 3:30 AM until around 7:00 AM, Pacific Time. This issue has now been
resolved. We know how important Google News is to our users, so we take issues
like this very seriously.
Service was subsequently restored. In a blog post, Google blamed a computer
error that led to a Web traffic jam in Asia.
"An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our Web
traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam,"
Urs Hoelzle, senior vice president of Operations for Google, wrote in the May
14 blog post. "As a result, about 14 percent of our users experienced slow
services or even interruptions."
Hoelzle added, "All planes are back on schedule now."
Google occasionally experiences short outages. In late February, Gmail was down for users in the United States and the
United Kingdom for 2.5 hours.
Google executives described that particular
incident as a service outage. And in August 2008, Google Gmail and Google Apps experienced nearly 15 hours of
As enterprise users increasingly migrate to cloud-based services, the
cloud's ability to maintain constant uptime has become a question not only of
convenience, but also of revenue. Other cloud services, such as the early test release of Microsoft Azure,
downtime in the past few months of 2009.
However, unless customers and businesses are willing to pay for five-nines
reliability, outages of cloud-based services may very well need to be accepted
as a part of Web 2.0 life.