At about 6am this morning Google started to experience problems with it’s popular Groups service, my research leads me to believe that whatever the problem was resulted in a complete failure of the service around noon. It is now 6pm and the service is still messed up, there is only partial functionality, and a great deal of user data is missing.

BNN uses this service to manage our reviews section, this outage, while not devastating, is extremely inconvenient.

It also raises some interesting questions about Google, and its infrastructure. They run approximately 32 primary Data Centers in a number of different countries. I believe that they also have somewhere in the region of 60 additional data centers. They have often claimed that the loss of one, or even several datacenters would have little or no effect on service.

Google have been pushing hard to break into the Microsoft Office sand box, their calendar system is very similar to Outlook, and their Docs and Spreadsheets are aimed at MS Word and Excel. Clearly they would love to lure corporate clients into using these products. Indeed I am a user, and I like them very much, they offer me great flexibility, I can access my document from wherever I happen to be.

Today’s little adventure, no service, followed by lost data, would make me very dubious of using them for business and other critical applications. To make matters worse, there has been no acknowledgement from Google that there is even a problem! Another little issue that irked me today that the ‘Google Help Line’ to answer questions was also unavailable, yes, you guessed it, they use Google Groups for this function!

Simon Barrett

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