Clouds over Gmail, MobileMe

It's IT Blogwatch: in which cloudy users of Apple and Google services suffer long outages. Not to mention using your browser history to estimate your sex...

Gregg Keizer reports:

Apple Inc.'s MobileMe and Google Inc.'s Gmail online e-mail services suffered hours-long outages Monday, leaving millions of users unable to access their accounts. Google restored service within about two and a half hours, but it took Apple approximately seven hours to restore full access to its online mail service.
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Apple users were especially livid, in part because they, unlike Gmail's users, pay for their service, and also because of the multiple problems they had with MobileMe since its launch a month ago. more

Anthony Ha adds:

As far as I can tell, this outage affects all of our staff VentureBeat email accounts, as well as our personal Gmail accounts. There are plenty of reports from others on Twitter and FriendFeed, too, including one from Digg founder Kevin Rose.
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There’s really no way to overstate how this is puts my workday on complete hold until things get fixed. All of my emails are stored on Gmail, and are now inaccessible. Ditto most of my work-related contacts and documents, which means that I may not be able to prepare or even make the calls I have scheduled for later this afternoon.

I know I’m not the only VentureBeat staffer to make their Gmail account the center of their work life; in fact, we’ve bugged Editor Matt Marshall about the fact that he still uses Outlook. Looks like Matt made the right call — if I was using Outlook or another desktop email program, I’d still have trouble accessing and sending new emails, but at least all of my old messages would be available. more

Chris Overd is depressed:

With all the fuss in recent weeks about Apple’s dismal failure with MobileMe, in particular around providing a stable and reliable service ... it’s also worth remembering that 3 weeks ago Amazon experienced some significant downtime in its S3 storage service, used by a number of Web 2.0 companies for image hosting.

Without wishing to tempt fate, the stalwarts of internet communications, AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft have all done exceptionally well in recent years ... However they too still experience issues occasionally, Hotmail had one earlier this year, which makes me wonder how quickly the uptake of services like Live Mesh will be.

With people now wanting to move their business applications and data storage to the internet, 100% availability is the only uptime that users and companies will accept. If you can’t search your email for that critical file when you need it, you’re potentially another dissatisfied customer. The question is whether anybody can deliver this, and if not, how much downtime will users tolerate - is three nines really attainable? Is it really affordable? more

Matt Jansen asks:

Are we relying on Google too much? Gmail outages are peppered over the last few years and every time it creates a flurry of activity as businesses and individuals realize how much they rely on a single business and platform for all of their messaging needs.
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Google has built upon an ad-supported business model and has enabled an expectation by customers of 100% uptime—at no cost to them. Perfection is something most businesses admire and aspire to, but rarely achieve. Google has certainly distinguished itself from the crowd, but when outages like this affect so many people it’s a sign that competition isn’t fierce enough.

But, until the market stabilizes and new competitors demonstrate compelling value propositions, back up your Gmail account. more

Bob Lozano sighs:

I am a big fan of Google's basic approach to scalable computing. There is much to like - Captain Enormous scale on commodity gear, rapid deployment of applications, and so on.

Yet it is by no means perfect. In particular, there is a chronic level of failure in (at least) some of the flagship services that should not be acceptable in any modern day offering ... Even worse, I don't think our industry even has a good way to measure this phenomena.
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All too often these sorts of failures ... are waved off with cavalier comments of "typical", or "what can you expect for free", or some other such garbage. That might have been OK when this was all new ... [but] that was yesterday and this is today. It really isn't OK for SaaS services to work sometimes and not work others ... even the free ones. more

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 21 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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