Google: Gmail outage a “big deal”

September 2, 2009

By Laura Isensee

A majority of Google users from California to Taiwan found themselves without access to Google’s popular email service on Tuesday.

Google has a diagnosis: The outage, which lasted more than an hour and a half, was a “Big Deal.”

The company outlined what went wrong on its blog.

“We took a small fraction of Gmail’s servers offline to perform routine upgrades,” Ben Treynor, vice president of engineering and site reliability czar, wrote.

But the company “slightly underestimated” the load that placed on other servers — called request routers — that direct web queries to the right Gmail server for response.

So those servers became overloaded, pushing the load to the remaining request routers, causing more to become overloaded. And “within minutes nearly all of the request routers were overloaded,” Treynor said.

“As a result, people couldn’t access Gmail via the web interface because their requests couldn’t be routed to a Gmail server,” Treynor said.

To fix the immediate problem, Google put more request routers online.

To ensure it doesn’t happen again, the company said it is increasing request router capacity well beyond peak demand. It is also making sure that its request routers work slower instead of refusing traffic if many are overloaded in the future.

We were wondering what Gmail users think of the outage. Are people considering changing email service? Did the outage spark any doubts about adopting “cloud computing” for business?

6 comments

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Actually you could still send and recieve email with google.com/ig. pop3 and imap probably worked aswell.

i dont think its that big of a deal and i dont think its going to happen again. googlemail is still the best free email you can get. almost no ads, fastest webclient i know and the best spamfilter in the world.

but its still google, the privacy protection is a big issue. if youre concerned about that, look somewhere else :)

Posted by Dominik Andreas | Report as abusive

Just wondering how many of those affected had previously switched from Google as their default search engine and currently use Bing instead?

Posted by Janet Manley | Report as abusive

I’m not considering changing from Gmail because they had a problem on 1 day for a little over an hour and a half. I had other ways to access my account and did so.

Overall, I am very happy with Gmail and can live with the very rare and odd outage. At least I don’t have the problems with it I did when I switched from Yahoo and from my ISP’s email.

Posted by Ann | Report as abusive

And Google want’s to rule the world? Good luck with that!

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

The clear explanation, prompt fix, and long term correction make me more confident in Google’s services.

Abandoning a key service provider for a small outage would be irresponsible. No vendor is immune to this kind of problems.

Looking at the positive side, sometime we all need to take a break. We really don’t have to be glued to the email screen, waiting for the next message and immediately responding to it.

Please see the article “In praise of Unitasking” http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArtic leNew.asp?xfile=/data/opinion/2009/Septe mber/opinion_September9.xml&section=opin ion

Posted by Malik | Report as abusive