Google blames outage on system error and online traffic jam

After stirring up a Twitter storm, exec lists cause of widespread Google Apps failure

Google Apps hit by outage

Google Apps hit by outage

Google Inc. is blaming this morning's Google Apps service outage on a system error that caused a major traffic jam.

The company reported that the outage, which started a little before 11 a.m. EDT, caused about 14% of Google users to face slow service or interruptions. The problem affected all Google products, including Google Search, Google News, Gmail, Google Maps and Google Reader.

The outage appeared to start clearing up a little after noon EDT.

"We've been working hard to make our services ultrafast and 'always on', so it's especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens," wrote Urs Hoelzle, Google senior vice president of Operations in a blog post. "We're very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we'll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won't happen again."

Hoelzle explained that the system error directed some of their web traffic through Asia, creating the hangups and interruptions.

"Imagine if you were trying to fly from New York to San Francisco, but your plane was routed through an airport in Asia," he wrote. "And a bunch of other planes were sent that way too, so your flight was backed up and your journey took much longer than expected. That's basically what happened to some of our users today."

Twitter and the blogosphere erupted with chatter about the outage this morning. Comments about the failure were flying on Twitter, with " googlefail" quickly becoming one of the most searched terms on Twitter.

"Outages like this are highly publicized today, users are vocal and the news spreads like wildfire," said Dan Olds, an analyst with the Gabriel Consulting Group Inc.

"It will have an impact on Google, as it makes their services look less than reliable. While the problem was very short-lived, just a few hours in most cases, the hue and cry from users and the tech media echo chamber make it sound like it was much worse. With at least some users, this will confirm in their mind that they can't rely on Google Apps as their one and only set of tools."

Caroline Dangson, an analyst for IDC, said today's outage made her glad she's not dependent on Google Apps for her work.

"When we look at businesses dependent on Google Analytics or Gmail, they can't afford to have Google crash on them," she added. "It's bad for business. The enterprise will start to consider using something that's always on - more reliable. It's a problem when you have this kind of hiccup system-wide and you're not seen as dependable."

In February, Google's Gmail had a highly publicized two-and-a-half-hour outage.

That February outage came just a week after Google acknowledged that some users had experienced problems getting results from Google News searches over a span of more than 14 hours. Some users reported that they weren't getting any results when searching for keywords, such as Microsoft and even Google, in Google News.

Other users reported that entire news sections, such as Science/Technology, were coming up empty of stories.

And last December, Google confirmed that there was a technical problem with Google Talk and the Web-based Gmail chat system. One day early in the month, messages created by a "subset" of users were left unsent because of glitches in the messaging system, according to Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GoogleGoogle Appsoutage

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?