Thursday, May 14, 2009

Public clouds fail more visibly!

With great fame and visibility also come great notoriety, at least in the case of failure.  Twitter was alive this morning with the tag #gmailfail with comments like "We are receiving reports of major outages on the West Coast and East coast. Canada + UK seem unaffected so far." and "Receiving reports of total Google Services Fail. Maps, News, Apps, Reader, Gmail, all affected. #gmailfail".  Some speculation placed the blame on google analytics ("Google service issues across all apps and other web pages appear to be caused by problems with google analytics #gmailfail") while others were speculating that the problem could be with portions of the internet backbone.  Some felt it might be the end of the world (" feels very weird to have google and gmail down. Is this a sign of the end of the world? #gmailfail") - are we *really* that dependent on our email and search now?  .

There is a summary of activity going on here as well with reports of outages via AT&T.  Google notes that the problem affects a small subset of users here.  Rumor is, though, you can't see that site if you can't access google.  ;)

It will be interesting to see the summary of why but one thing that is clear:  the level of visibility in the case of a failure increases rather dramatically.  Another observation is that determing root cause of the problem is complex - isolating to a set of affected users, analyzing the connectivity between the users and their cloud based resource and internally at the cloud provider assessing the failure require very good diagnostic skills and access to the data center.

This isn't the first (or last!) cloud outage.  And, perhaps the worst problem is that people were deprived of their email for a small number of hours.  But perhaps it points out that the cloud isn't ready yet for all workloads.

And a late update:  cnet news reports about a connection between YouTube, Google News, and the outage.  (Thanks, Nish!)

Another interesting update here that was passed on via facebook.  The graph here is very interesting as well with the dramatic traffic drop which implies just how much data is going on over the existing network infrastructure just for email and search driven activities.

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