Google unveils dashboard to alert users to Google Apps downtime

One day after Gmail outage, Google adds site where users can check status of its services

Just a day after Gmail users were hit with an e-mail outage that lasted two and a half hours and Google Chat users were attacked by phishers, Google Inc. introduced its new Google Apps Status Dashboard, which will immediately alert users to any problems with the hosted services.

The dashboard is designed to let users check on the current availability of the company's various services, which include Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Video, said Tessa Prescott, a member of the Google Apps sales team, in a blog post.

"We made a commitment last year to increase transparency and communication with Google Apps customers in several ways," wrote Prescott. "We heard your feedback around the need for better communication when issues like [Tuesday's] Gmail outage occur. The Google Apps Status Dashboard represents an additional layer of transparency that we believe will be particularly useful for our business users, and it's also relevant to users of our consumer products."

Tuesday's Gmail outage affected users around the world. Reports came in that users could not access their e-mail in-boxes or that they had to wait a minute or more for them to open.

"The problem with services like Gmail is that every outage is highlighted in the press, and rightfully so," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc., in an interview earlier this week. "The companies pitch these services as dependable and easy substitutes for higher-cost alternatives, but a widespread and long-lasting outage like this really hurts that claim. While some people might shrug off a failure like this, it can cause real hardships for some users and have an impact on their lives and businesses."

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at U.K.-based security firm Sophos PLC, said yesterday that Tuesday's phishing attack, which was aimed at stealing Gmail usernames and passwords, spread through Gmail's Google Talk instant messaging system.

Prescott noted in her blog that the new dashboard is available to users around the world to check for information on Google Apps availability.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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