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Back in July, Google dropped the beta label from Gmail after 5 long years of pretty much perfection.  Gmail’s full feature set, solid uptime and performance is the reason it’s the number two web based email provider (US) only behind Yahoo Mail.  However, today, Gmail took a major hit in the uptime area.  Originally, early this morning, there was sporadic downtime for a small subset of users which then turned into massive downtime for a large majority of users according to Google in a status message:

September 1, 2009 12:53:00 PM PDT
We’re aware of a problem with Google Mail affecting a majority of users. The affected users are unable to access Google Mail. We will provide an update by September 1, 2009 1:53:00 PM PDT detailing when we expect to resolve the problem. Please note that this resolution time is an estimate and may change.

The Gmail downtime did not go unnoticed and understandably so after being down for hours (approximately 6 in total).  The flood of tweets broke Twitter temporarily, however, did not take Twitter down and thankfully so; can you imagine what would have happened?  I don’t even want to thank about that.  Nonetheless, email around the web was put to a halt essentially.  Even Google Apps for Domains was affected from the outage (which I use), however, I was still able to receive email via IMAP in Mail – I just couldn’t access it via the web.

Email is so vital, it’s a staple in the online world and even the work place – it’s one of the major ways people communicate.  The problem here is that lately Google has been pushing their Google Apps product with very heavy advertising against Microsoft’s Office suite and Exchange email server and this looks very bad.  Will it have any affect in the short or long term?  Probably more so in the short term than the long term.

If a company was looking to switch over sometime soon they may reconsider (at least temporarily).  Because all of Microsoft’s products (e.g. Office and Exchange) can be run on a company’s network, they may feel more comfortable with it especially when something goes down you know you have your IT people available to look into it right away.  On the other hand, you have Google Apps which is all remotely accessed (via the web) and if something happens you don’t have the same “comfort” because you are relying on a 3rd party to resolve the issue ASAP which may or may not be their top priority depending on the outage size.  Definitely something a company will be thinking about before the switch.

Were you affected by the Gmail outage and if so were you more productive or less because of it?


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