Google News updated its site with YouTube videos and a new look, even as it experienced a shutdown that also deprived users of their Gmail, YouTube and other Google services. Google has experienced similar shutdowns in the past, none lasting more than a few hours. Despite their increasing adoption by both the general public and the enterprise, cloud-based services remain vulnerable to the occasional short-term failure.
made a few changes to its Google News service, incorporating YouTube videos and
a few aesthetic adjustments into the page, a day after many of its services
went dark for 3.5 hours due to a system error.
The Google News site now includes a "Featured Video," as
well as a small YouTube tab beside certain news stories, which users can click
on to access that site's video content.
Some of the top news on the site, however, has focused on
the recent Google outages, which affected much of the company's services. "It highlights the importance of search in something as
large and complex as the Internet, and how bruised people feel when they're
deprived of that tool," Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said in
an interview. "The organic growth of online services has become such a critical
part of people's lives, but they often don't really notice how much they use
them until they're gone. You don't miss the water until the well runs dry." On the morning of May 14, Google experienced slowdowns and
outages to Google
News and Gmail services
. A small subset of users also reported issues with
YouTube and a few other Google-affiliated sites. The company blamed the
situation on 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 a
corporate blog posting on the afternoon of May 14. "As a result, about 14
percent of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions." Twitter subscribers immediately started firing off 140-character
micro-blogs on the May 14 shutdown, registering opinions that ranged from an
apathetic "meh" to comically overblown rage. Google experiences periodic outages of a few hours'
duration, such as a February
2009 incident that took down Gmail in the United States and the United Kingdom
for 2.5 hours
. In August 2008, Google
Gmail and Google Apps endured some 15 hours of downtime.
Cloud-based services such as Google are vulnerable to
occasional shutdowns, as the infrastructure required for "five-9s," or virtually
uninterrupted, reliability would be prohibitive to build for a system that
supports millions of users. Other cloud services, such
as an early test release of Microsoft Azure,
have also wrestled with
unexpected downtime in 2009.