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Google's Gmail glitch
What Tuesday's Gmail outage says about the future of cloud computing
 

"Want to know why you couldn’t use your Gmail account Tuesday?" asked Ryan Singel in Wired. According to a blog post by Google engineer and vice president Ben Treynor, the outage happened when some "request routers" became overloaded, transferring traffic to other routers, some of which also got bogged down by the extra load. "That’s the kind of transparency" Google needs to show if it wants people to use its cloud computing services—Gmail and Google Docs—as replacements for Microsoft’s desktop software.

Google's explanation was a start, said Patrick Thibodeau in BusinessWeek, but the company will have to do better than that if it wants people to trust it with more and more tasks, including critical government services. "Was the equipment upgraded, patched? Was staffing at proper levels? When was the last time someone tested the emergency generators?" Users need a lot more information than Google is providing.

Tuesday's Gmail outage was, after all, more than a mere "inconvenience," said Ian Paul in PC World. "It calls into question— yet again—the feasibility of present-day cloud computing." Many people are dreaming of a future when "computers won't need huge hard drives because all our applications and personal data (photos, videos, documents, and e-mail) will exist on remote servers on the Internet (otherwise known as "cloud computing")." But that "Utopian computing future" could be risky with accessibility to your files "dependent on forces beyond your control."

 

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