The cloud is still not reliable enough

Updated on September 2, 2009

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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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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. broadstuff

    Cloud is still up in the air……..

    From the

    Article in TCUK yesterday arguing the Business is moving towards the cloud.

    In their poll of 1,400 Microsoft customers, all small businesses in the UK, they found that 13% of them intend to switch to Google Apps within 12 months while 2…

  2. Robin Capper

    That’s why I like the Cloud Sync, rather than work, systems which use the cloud to distribute data but where you still work local. I’ve been using Microsoft Mesh and find it’s a nice way of working. You have the speed and power of local, the edit anywhere sync of cloud but can still work on a sunny day when the cloud has disappeared!

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