The cloud is still not reliable enough

googleerror Much gnashing of teeth yesterday as Gmail (Googlemail in the UK and Germany) was out for the count for some hours following what Google called ‘routine upgrades’ to some of their servers.

In a post on the Official Gmail Blog, the company explained in some detail what actually happened: in essence, some request rerouters – servers which direct web queries to the appropriate Gmail server for response – became overloaded and brought the whole email, system to a crashing halt.

It meant that for almost two hours, you could not access your Gmail account via the web. At all. Serious issues for many people, whether your Gmail is business or personal.

I have many Gmail accounts, some of which I use a great deal. Recently, I restructured my domain email via Gmail via a Google Apps account.

Yet I neither noticed nor experienced any interruption in email. At all. Why? Because I don’t do my email via the web interface, the browser. Instead, I bring in all email from all the accounts I use into Outlook 2007 via POP.

And POP (as well as IMAP) access was unaffected by yesterday’s outage. Said Google:

[…] IMAP/POP access and mail processing continued to work normally because these requests don’t use the same routers.

Now, I’m not going to get smug about this as I saw that information as a bonus: when I first heard about the outage yesterday, I fully expected my email to be down, too.

But what it tells me is that I still cannot place my faith in cloud computing when a service as fundamental as email is out for the count, especially for an accidental-type reason as opposed to something really severe.

I’ll use the cloud of course. But not solely: I still have more faith in local content and offline backups.

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About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.