Too Big To GFail?: Why Cloud Computing Should be Given a Second Opinion

When sites go down, people start freaking out…and for good reason.

GFail

GFail

Some time around 4-ish today while I, along with millions of others around the world, battled the dreaded 5 o’clock deadline,  a terrible thing happened. Gmail crashed. For some, it may have happened earlier in the day, but for me it happened during crunch time — the time I had to buckle down to beat my deadline. And did that happen? No. Because even though everyone with POP, IMAP, or iPhone email integration was fine, many businesses’ secure, “https” Gmail accounts were not. Thanks Google.

Although these occurrences are rare for the Silicon Valley giant, our reliance on Google gets to be very scary when companies are forced to fly blind because of third party outages. Sure, companies have their own servers where information can be stored, but Google Docs is used by many 9 to 5ers to get projects done more efficiently, and not being able to access these documents puts these projects on hold until the disruption can be remedied (in my case it took about one hour).

This is what scares me about cloud computing and relying on third parties such as Amazon and Google to house all of our precious information. This may just be a knee-jerk reaction to the situation at hand, but it’s times like these when IT professionals need to consider making it mandatory for people to back up their files (even the ones on Google Docs).

Google should also consider finding a way to back up its system by using some sort of special, secure, open API whereby professionals  who use “https” can access their Gmail when something like this happens in the future.

So what’s your opinion on this? Does your company or University rely heavily on Gmail? Where were you when the world (wide web) stood still?

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5 Comments

  1. Really, Goolge? The Google? Not the first time.

    • And it definitely won’t be the last time Lee

      • Such a bummer.

  2. Backing up your documents is a good idea – cloud or no cloud. Let’s say Google can guarantee 100% uptime, what happens if your connections to internet goes down? So having a local copy is a good idea, regarless.

    There are firefox scripts[1] that allow you to d/l all docs from a your Google Docs account, alternatively you can use cURL[2] to interact with Google APIs to d/l all documents.

    1. http://blog.bradgrier.com/2009/05/22/back-up-google-docs-in-firefox/
    2. http://kawphi.blogspot.com/2009/07/using-curl-to-download-google.html

    • Wow Saqib that’s awesome! This is why I love Firefox. I’m going to try this out when I get a chance so that the next time Google crashes i won’t be left with my head in the cloud.


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