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Outages Leave Google Apps Admins In the Hotseat 260

snydeq writes "This week's Google outages left several Google Apps admins in the lurch — and many of them are second-guessing their advocacy for making the switch to hosted apps, InfoWorld reports. The outages, which affected both Gmail and Apps, 'could serve as a deterrent to some IT and business managers who might not be ready to ditch conventional software packages that are installed on their servers,' according to the article. 'If we began to experience a similar outage more than about two or three business hours per quarter, we'd probably make Google Apps and Gmail a backup solution to a locally hosted mail system, if we used it at all,' said one Apps admin. 'And it would likely be years before we'd try a cloud-based collaborative system again from any vendor.' Coupled with recent Apple and Amazon cloud issues, these Google outages are being viewed by some as big wins for Microsoft."
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Outages Leave Google Apps Admins In the Hotseat

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  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @08:24AM (#24633815) Homepage Journal
    isnt there any other vendor out there providing business solutions ? its not like everyone is going to jump into exchange wagon because they couldnt do with google apps. geez.
    • by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @08:29AM (#24633849)

      I agree. Openoffice is still "locally installable" and 100% free on the applications front. And any business that relies on an outside free webmail service for their corporate email needs is just asking for trouble...loss of the service from time to time is but one of the gotchas.


      • by lukas84 ( 912874 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @08:31AM (#24633863) Homepage

        Google Apps Premier is not free - it's 50$ per year per account.

        I'm using it for my private mail. I like it. But i don't expect 100% uptime - especially for just 50Ã per year per account.

        • by Instine ( 963303 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @11:31AM (#24635027)
          Precisely. And while I use Gmail most of the time, and the rest of my office use an Exchange server hosted in same said office, guess who has the better uptime...?

          That would be me. They frequently (3-4 time a month) loose half a day, as the under resourced, high maintanence, auto-destructing, sorry updated, blackhat honey pot splutters in the corner. I've lost two half days in the however many years I've used Gmail.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by encoderer ( 1060616 )

            The fact that you've got a horrible sys admin for your exchange server says a lot more about your company than it does about Microsoft and Exchange.

            Fact is a lot of companies are running exchange w/ very little downtime at all.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by neonsignal ( 890658 )
            Interesting that people are more uncomfortable with a 3 hour downtime on gmail than they are with a 3 hour downtime on their local mail server. My guess is that it is the feeling of being out of control. If it is a local problem, there is someone to curse; if it is remote, then you don't even know when it is going to be fixed. This is a good example of how we are psychologically more adverse to unknown failures than we are to known ones.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by dbcad7 ( 771464 )
            You want a horror story... Excite, which had (at least in my opinion) pretty reliable web mail.. decided to "upgrade" their email interface, and have it hosted by a company called Bluetie.. You would figure in such a change that you might at the most be down for a day, maybe two... 33 days is what it took before I finally got any email coming into my inbox.. Now for me this was just a side account, but I had some things tied to it that I liked to keep tabs on.. but there were many people who had excites ema
      • If you have a lots of locations around the global and not a central mail system and instead a lot of locals, where some are still POP and then something like google mail is still a much better solution.

    • by jabithew ( 1340853 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:11AM (#24634053)

      Because it's a refutation of Google's business model (cloud based, for want of a better way of phrasing it) compared to Microsoft's (locally based tech).

      I remain sceptical, as it it would seem that Google would have to be less reliable than local kit in order to make it worth switching back, even before you take into account extra costs for doing it locally. (How much more do you want to spend to get an extra hour per quarter in reliability?)

      Nevertheless, IANASA so I don't know the data behind this decision.

      • It's been quite a few years (err, back in 2001 if memory serves) since I've used microsoft products. Back then *only* two or three hours of downtime per quarter would have been a dream. How are they for reliability these days? I hear the OS side stays up a lot better than win2000 used to. What about the Office suite? Does it still crash every couple of hours and hose work?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by rabbit994 ( 686936 )

          OS stays up heck alot of better and Office 2007 is pretty stable. I haven't heard of it crashing at complete random hosing up work. When it does crashes for no reason, it's generally the computer is hosed up with Spyware and Viruses pretty bad. Exchange 2007 is stable and unless you use it in some wierd way that Microsoft doesn't recommend, it stays up most of the time.

      • There's something to be said for being responsible for your own problems. When you outsource, you expect 100% reliability. When it fails, you are helpless. There is nothing you can do. When phone calls come streaming in, all you can say is "I don't know" when people ask when it will be up again. That makes you look bad.

        If you are handling it yourself, you know what's going on. You are responsible if it fails. You're not twiddling your thumbs waiting for someone else to fix the problem. You can give

    • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:28AM (#24634123)

      There are only two IT solutions out there in the minds of too many people: Microsoft, and non-Microsoft.

      To go with Microsoft is the easy, sure road. It is the standard. It is what is expected, what is known to be safe, what will always work. Any problems you encounter here are met with "well, computers always have problems don't they?"

      To go with non-Microsoft is hard and uncertain. It is not expected, nor "the standard", and suspected to be extremely unsafe. The smallest problem will be countered with "you and your stupid ideas. Now go and call LocalRetailerInc for a certified Microsoft solution, and be glad I don't fire your ass over this fiasco!"

      Google is not Microsoft, so according to the business logic described above, if it doesn't work the only possible alternative is to use Microsoft.

      • by chthon ( 580889 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:43AM (#24634633) Homepage Journal

        Non-Microsoft can be :

        • IBM mainframe
        • IBM System/i
        • IBM AIX
        • Sun
        • HP
        • Solutions using Red Hat or SUSE (however despised they might be)
        • I am pretty sure there are other solutions...

        I think the basic problem is impatience. I can understand that people want for business purposes something that is quickly implemented, but my experience is that when a Microsoft implementation is chosen, you have two long-term issues : you will time and time again have to solve the same problems over and over, and you can be sure that Microsoft will try to pressure you into upgrades, willing or not.

        My experience with Linux and associated programs is this. Over time, everything gets better and better. Sometimes, you might need some time to investigate a problem and solve it, but once solved, it will not recur again (be sure that you have a good system to record such findings, but that would be same when using Microsoft).

        I have already three people (not much, yes, but important for me) using Linux : my father, my brother (who shares with my father's PC) and my sister. Unless there is a hardware problem, I can be sure that I do not have to solve software issues on a regular basis, only help them with functional questions : what software to use and how to use it.

        They use on a regular basis :

        • OpenOffice
        • GIMP
        • SANE based scanners
        • HP Deskjet printing
        • Firefox (Iceweasel)
        • Evolution and Sylpheed-Claws
        • Skype
        • Google Earth

        I am pretty sure that for most parts of a business, this would be enough.

        Now, I think that the usage of Exchange is more of a perception thing, than a real technical obstacle. At my work, Lotus Notes was swapped for Exchange, but I do not consider this a progress, as it reminds me too much of PCTools 4.0 or 5.0 (about 1990) : I really do not see anything innovative in this area (and while some people here seem to loathe Lotus Notes (mostly without any reasons given), it was much faster than Exchange, I find speed very important for computer programs).

        Anyone here which as implemented or is using alternatives to Exchange ?

        • I am pretty sure that for most parts of a business, this would be enough.

          I keep hearing this argument over and over, and it doesn't hold water. Every industry has its own set of "industry standard" applications (aka "vertical stack") which are never easily replaceable and are always a core requirement to how the companies in that industry do their work.


          • Architecture: Core work is done on CAD of which the only reasonable solutions are AutoCAD, Revit (both from Autodesk and Windows only) and ArchiCAD
      • by JayAEU ( 33022 )

        I really have no idea how the parent got modded (Score:4, Funny), it should rather be (Score:5, Insightful)!

        I couldn't agree more with the point he's making. Most of the CIOs I know would rather go blind-foldedly with a Microsoft solution than making an informed choice about which system would suit them best.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thermian ( 1267986 )

      Its only a big win if Microsoft don't have similer problems.

      I'm personally very dubious about these online apps as anything but utilities for occasional use.

      The main issue for me is that they exists primarily to benefit the hosting company (google, Microsoft or whoever). We don't need them, they need us to use them, otherwise they can't make money from us.

      The current 'install on local machine' application model works perfectly well for end users, but there's less profit for them if you can buy something the

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @12:26PM (#24635415) Journal
        I think, in this case, that it is less a matter of absolute downtime, and more a matter of people's feelings of control over that downtime. Look at cars vs. planes. Flying is safer, but people feel safer driving because they feel like they are in control of the situation.

        My suspicion would be that google hits higher reliability numbers than many in-shop setups, particularly small ones; but the feeling of sitting there, twiddling your thumbs, and waiting for the remote service over which you have no control to come back up is a terrible one. It is much nicer to have to fix a local problem, which requires more effort; but makes you master of your fate(to the degree that anybody ever is).

        The smaller, but ultimately more intractable, issue for remote hosted stuff is that it necessarily suffers more potential points of failure than does local stuff. If google screws up, google goes down. If somebody between my desktop and google screws up, google is down to me. If WAN goes down, but LAN stays up, local apps are still substantially useful(since a vast amount of email and document shuffling is company internal); but remote stuff is useless.
  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) * on Sunday August 17, 2008 @08:26AM (#24633825)
    When my boss tells me he wants 0 downtime (or even five-9 downtime), I show him a quote for the 7-figure cost of creating such a system.

    Apparently Google is expected to hit that level of uptime all while charging either nothing for their standard edition or $50 per user per year for the premier.

    I wonder how much downtime the companies that are using Google Apps would experience if they had to pay for their own redundancy?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lukas84 ( 912874 )

      Depending on the size of your company, you can have 0 unexpected downtime with a single server, if you are lucky.

      Statistics don't matter for the individual case.

      We have many customers with SBS Server or smaller Windows environments with just redundant Domain Controllers, and out of our entire customer base, we only have one or two unexpected downtimes per year.

      Of course this doesn't invalidate your point it all - it just may explain where the execs delusional ideas come from.

      • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) * on Sunday August 17, 2008 @08:35AM (#24633881)
        we only have one or two unexpected downtimes per year

        What about your planned downtime? If you're running Windows, you're rebooting to install patches on a regular basis or you're running unpatched systems. What about software installs?

        In the context of the article, do you think the users of Google Apps (or any users) would be happy with, "Oh, no you don't understand. This is PLANNED downtime. This doesn't affect you or our downtime numbers."

        you can have 0 unexpected downtime with a single server, if you are lucky.

        You can win the lottery too, if you are lucky. How many people win the lottery though?
        • Two completely different things (planned vs unplanned downtime). Planned downtime in your own corporate data center is an annoyance sure, but since it is planned it can be sure to be done at times not effecting or with minimal effect to the company. Very different animal from unplanned downtime. Planned downtime on large hosted services may be comparable to unplanned downtime as Google, Yahoo, etc have never asked my company when would be a convenient time for planned downtime. However, in an internal en

        • Yes.. but how many people PLAY the lottery hoping to get something for nothing.

      • by toby ( 759 ) *

        we only have one or two unexpected downtimes per year.

        Just like Google. You're making the parent's point nicely.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jimicus ( 737525 )

        Depending on the size of your company, you can have 0 unexpected downtime with a single server, if you are lucky.

        The key phrase here is "if you are lucky".

        The whole point about building a system which is designed to have zero downtime is that it doesn't depend upon luck in order to achieve that level of uptime.

    • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:35AM (#24634165) Journal

      Expecting five-9 or 0 downtime for a system used by only ONE company might be a very high expectation with a high cost vs. usage obtained from it afterwards.

      But how many companies rely on Google's systems? When you offer your application or suite to the whole nation or WORLD, and campaign for its use - then YES, you do need to keep a very near-0 downtime to be really successful.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BIGELLOW ( 970109 )

        The part that is being misunderstood is simply this. Instead of just complaining about Google Apps... compare it to the alternatives.

        How many companies rely on Microsoft Outlook with Microsoft Exchange Server? When you offer an application or suite to the whole nation or WORLD, and campaign for its use - then YES, you do need to keep a very near-0 downtime to be really successful.

        Except, Microsoft Exchange (while often reliable) does have its moments. Sometimes, just from getting clogged by tons of spam,

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @08:26AM (#24633827)
    It is not a big win for Microsoft, it is a big win for corps hosting their own app servers. I would think that eventually Google will release google apps on a server that corps could install in their own data centers.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @08:48AM (#24633945) Homepage

    Google has a Service Level Agreement. [] If they have excessive downtime, you can get up to 15 days of free service. No refunds.

    Tell that to your boss. It's not your problem. That's what the company signed up for. Welcome to "cloud computing".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The last few places I worked had periodic network outages, random print server crashes, workstation blue screens. This caused hours and hours of downtime for dozens of people over the course of a year.

      When Google Apps or Gmail goes down, exceedingly rare as it is, people threaten to "abandon the cloud". I wish we had threatened to abandon the lame infrastructure that our parent company refused to update or spend money properly maintaining. For my $0, Google does one hell of a better job than the three hel
    • Seriously now, WTF? Why is everyone acting like they've never had a BSOD on windows, a failed harddrive, a driver problem, or a vendor discontinue support? I use AWS, GAE and Google Apps and while there is a certain loss of control, the downtime I have experienced is far less than I would incur trying to roll my own infrastructure.

      I've worked in a few companies with large IT budgets and have experienced more downtime in those environments than I have so far "in the cloud." I think the biggest problem with
      • Seriously now, WTF? Why is everyone acting like they've never had a BSOD on windows, a failed harddrive, a driver problem, or a vendor discontinue support?

        However, the cloud doesn't make these problems go away. If I have a failed hard drive, I still have downtime while I go find a different machine to use or repair the one I have.

        Also remember that it isn't just the servers you have to worry about. There are a lot of miles of fiber out there and a lot of idiots with back-hoes.

    • Google only has SLA's on GMAIL, not the rest of the Google Apps "bundle." Also, they only provide https support for GMAIL, not Docs and spreadsheets etc.
    • As an IT professional this cuts like a double edged sword. On the one side, you can always tell that CIO or whatever that "this is what you bought" when they went over the IT departments head and made "everything" a "web app". On the other hand, it sucks because as an IT professional, you want your shit to just work.

      Lets face it, like EVERYTHING ELSE, web apps has its place. Maps, dictionaries (wiki's), and collaborative tools belong on the web. Word processing, spread sheets, presentation software... belon

  • Why is this surprising?

    Are the proponents of cloud apps so stupid they don't realise that a network can go down just as easily as a local app? I wouldn't mind betting that Google's outage rate is considerably less than the amount of time the average Word user has to go without Word for some reason.

    What you have to take into account is the failure rate of all network segments between you and Google (or wherever). With the best will in the world you're not going to get 100%, ever. It's just a matter of comp

    • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:29AM (#24634133)
      Another issue is web/network attacks. They are going up big time and are even state-sponsored. Look at what Russia is, and has been doing to Georgia.

      I don't understand how anyone in this day and age can justify going with remotely-hosted applications. The ability to reach remote servers can be taken away even by morons and botnets who might not like your company.

      In my opinion, remote web hosting of applications that are presumably important for a company to be able to run is just asking for trouble. I wonder how many fingers will get pointed when some critical deadline looms and nobody can run their applications to be able to meet it.

      It's reckless and risky for business to expose themselves like that. As others have pointed out, OpenOffice is free and it is good. Why waste money on training people on both the Google (or other) remotely-hosted application and OpenOffice (if that is your emergency backup). Just train people on OpenOffice and now you don't need a backup plan in case the network goes down and you can't run the remote stuff.

      Remote applications may have been a solution before the Internet got nasty but these days, running business-critical stuff over it when you don't need to does not make sense to me.

      Maybe I'm missing the huge economic advantages that justify the unknown and growing risk, but I see network (Internet) applications as being at huge risk for outages, a security risk, a data privacy risk, etc.
      • Any monoculture has huge risks. If you want to improve reliability, you provide diverse, (at least partially) redundant systems and DR plans as to what you do if systems go down.

        A DR solution isn't "someone else's problem."

        • I agree that people should have disaster recovery plans. For me, I would think moving to Google web applications might be a good strategy to continue operations in the event of some disaster.

          Maybe it would even be worthwhile to encrypt and push backups up to Google, or Amazon, or anyone else offering storage solutions. That could make resuming operations much easier depending on local backup integrity, etc.

          Storing at Google would be kind of a setup to transitioning to Google Apps if the need came up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bcrowell ( 177657 )

        Another issue is web/network attacks. They are going up big time and are even state-sponsored. Look at what Russia is, and has been doing to Georgia. [...] I don't understand how anyone in this day and age can justify going with remotely-hosted applications. The ability to reach remote servers can be taken away even by morons and botnets who might not like your company.

        What you're saying makes sense for something like google apps, but it's exactly backwards for something like gmail. A small organization

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Some good points but they can also be turned around. Something like GMail will definitely be more robust than trying to get the mail down to a local server. But web applications are subject to those same kinds of service interruptions. Even if Google has the bandwidth and distributed systems to be that robust, the choke point is the link in/out of the company and a DOS attack there can still close off access to the apps people need to run.

          And I think we're all starting to get a feeling for what other com
  • Yeah because we all know Microsoft's hallmarks are reliability and stability... bwahaha
  • by yuna49 ( 905461 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:22AM (#24634091)

    I scan Slashdot nearly every day and didn't remember seeing anything about outages at Google this past week. A search through the story history confirmed that fact. So I thought I'd visit and see what Google itself had to say. Nothing on the blog; nothing in the press section.

    So why is this the first time these outages have been discussed here? From reading the article it appears we're talking about multiple outages over the past couple of weeks. Doing a Google search for "google outages" brings up one blog posting about these recent events. The blog posting includes this unsourced quotation, "Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs said via e-mail that 'a small number' of Gmail users and 'some' Apps users were impacted by the problem, which is still outstanding and being worked on as of 5:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Friday."

    So all these events seem rather shrouded in mystery. How big was the outage? What explanations did Google give for the outage? I've certainly had servers go down, lost network connectivity, etc., etc., but I don't maintain huge server farms with enormous redundancy and multiple high-bandwith connections to the Internet. I don't recall search on Google ever going down; what's up with gmail and Apps?

    The suspicious among us might start to think that outside parties might be responsible. After all, if companies start migrating to the "cloud," disrupting those services could have a substantial, economy-wide impact.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There was a GMail outage on Monday, which was reported in their blog:

      [blog entry] []

      I've read rumors about other Google Apps outages later last week, but nothing official and saw no evidence of them myself.

      • by yuna49 ( 905461 )

        So gmail has its own blog; you'd be hard-pressed to discover that fact on the "About Google []" page. You can find a link to it on the Google Blog [] page, but it's buried among dozens of other blogs.

        So I did miss this one, but it's not like Google felt the need to explain themselves in a visible manner.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )

      There aren't any gDoc outages that I've seen. The stories so far are about gmail outages, and it's leading people to question whether gDocs will suffer the same.

      That said, I don't remember the last time I've had any Google service down. It happens but not so often. My problem is that my internet service is a tad flaky, in part because wireless is my only partly decent broadband option.

      And that flakiness leads me to avoid "cloud" computing. You're relying on a service that has no credible assurances of u

  • by mrboyd ( 1211932 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:23AM (#24634097)
    We use google Apps for email and to be really honest no one here noticed the issue and I trust the email that could not reach gmail server during the outage will be retransmitted in time. The reliability of our mail server was far worse when we hosted it ourselves, particularly when some of the SEA-ME-WE cables got cut and our provider lost all connectivity for a couple of days. I am certain that if I had big money to waste I could build my own email servers farms and target the five nines but right now we are paying $0 and we are getting a pretty decent service.
    Those IT manager using the free service and expecting mission critical uptime should really go out more often and get a grip on reality.
    Let's see, to set up my own five/nine email servers I would need at least two hosting location on different backbone, each of them should have at least two redundant servers. And of course I should have one spare that I can ship express whenever one fail.

    Fixed Cost (Investment)
    • Decent server (RAID, Redudant PS): $3,500x5= $17,500
    • Operating system license: RHEL Standard subscription: $799 (optional of course)
    • Software license: $0 (sendmail etc..)

    Monthly Recurring Cost

    • Hosting with decent SLA: $500x2= $1,000
    • Email Administrator (IT Admin): $10,000(?)
    • Replacement Parts: $100(?)

    Implementation time

    • 2 to 6 months (including, research, documentation)

    Of course I pulled the numbers out of my hat but it should be enough to show that there is no way a SOHO will ever have the mean to do it and that it is unrealistic to expect that kind of service for free or cheap.

    • Yeah, and imagine a company that doesn't have the money to do this and has just one sever with perhaps some cheap backup MX somewhere.

      Google apps is just the best solutions for this ...

      • by mrboyd ( 1211932 )
        I don't need to imagine it. I worked there. :)
        Google Apps is as far as email hosting goes a few orders of magnitude better than what any ISP cares to provide. It's a god sent gift to any SOHO. Probably not the ideal solution for a fortune 500 or companies with privacy issue (lawyers, Al-qaeda).
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      That's roughly my estimate too.

      I am currently in the process of starting a new company. At the moment we only have four persons as staff, two if which (including me) work mostly from home.

      We could never afford a dedicated server at this time.

      Signing up for Google Apps was a no brainer for us and we are very happy with it so far.

    • If cables get cut, you won't be able to access GMail or Google Apps either.

      You still have that problem, and in addition, you have to add the reliability problems at Google's end.

  • by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:26AM (#24634117) Homepage

    We have all seen it. Ebay a couple of years ago going down due to Oracle corruption. Royal Bank of Canada failure due to an improper software upgrade. Now, Google with Gmail and other Google Apps failing. All of these organizations were geared towards having the highest uptimes available and failed spectacularly.

    Whether you host your own or use someone else its the illusion of control that somehow clouds our judgment into believing that it would somehow be different if I did it. Example: Is it better to drive or fly? Pure numbers state that its safer to fly on a commercial carrier by an order of magnitude but somehow we feel safer when we drive. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not the world is full of 6 sigma events. As long as you are doing everything you can and within your budget when your hosting your own apps or auditing your provider to ensure they have, backup systems, redundancy, offsite bunker, etc. then you have done everything you can to prepare for this inevitability.

    In a lot of ways designing systems is like playing poker. You can play your hand perfectly, design all the systems redundancy and recovery you like, but sometimes even after all that your opponent (risk) draws a lucky card on the river to beat you. Just because you got beat doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to play the same way, it just means you hit one of those events that you cannot plan.

    • The term you're looking for is a Black Swan Event []

    • We have all seen it. Ebay a couple of years ago going down due to Oracle corruption. Royal Bank of Canada failure due to an improper software upgrade. Now, Google with Gmail and other Google Apps failing. All of these organizations were geared towards having the highest uptimes available and failed spectacularly.

      Two of the most commonly missed points about high availability are simplicity and use the basic tools first. HA solutions are often complex, error prone and ignore the basics such as good system management practices. And when the complexity goes wrong, it is a mess.

      For example, many systems in need of HA share storage on a SAN that is changing daily for other systems in the big SAN cloud. If it was important, why not directly attach the disk? Must everything be on a SAN to keep the egos happy? No cabl

  • power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by epfreed ( 238219 ) <efreed.metafreed@net> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:32AM (#24634149)
    Two weeks ago a transformer blew out in the building I work in. First there was no power for 3 hours, then temporary power as a large generator was hooked up, but it was not big enough to run the AC, so we did no turn on the servers. It took another day to get a large enough generator (about the size of a tractor trailer). In total, our business was shut down completely for a day and a half due.

    I don't think you can even get a SLA from the power company.

    Google Apps went down for 3 hours.

    Shit happens.
    • I don't think you can even get a SLA from the power company.

      If you're willing to pay for it, you certainly can.

  • Rethinking Google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:33AM (#24634159) Homepage

    We ran into one of these "gotcha" features in hosted Gmail that's been giving me fits and it all started with a simple mistake. I misspelled a user name. You can change the spelling in the admin module, but it doesn't change the spelling in the contacts and the misspelling still showed up when she logged in. So I tried deleting the user name and recreating the account.

    Big mistake.

    When you delete a user name you can't recycle it for five days, which pushed us past our roll out date. Their crip work-around is creating a mailing list with that user name. But that has its own set of problems, especially when trying to migrate a large number of users. There's no support unless you get the premium edition. So now we're stuck in the position of paying for support on a service we're not certain will work for us. I'm not inclined to throw money at something to see if it will work when what we're already paying for is working.

    Unfortunately, it was one of our key sales people who already had that account name on her business cards. Rolling without her is a non-starter.

    It's frustrating because I'm the one who recommended Google and I feel really let down. It's a stupid problem that shouldn't exist in the first place. Even if there's a good reason for it, there should be a giant warning banner with a flashing red neon border warning you that deleting a user results in a five day lock out. Actually, it's been more than five days and I still can't recreate the account.

    This one niggling little incident is making me rethink hosted applications. So, yeah, it does sort of benefit MS. Not in our case, we're using hosted SendMail instead of Exchange, but if this type of "feature" deters other companies already using MS solutions, then yeah. Who wants to take a chance on looking bad? There will still be outages with any solution but no one gets fired for recommending MSFT. There's a certain period of time that users are looking for an excuse not to like a new service, just because it's different. If you can get past that time frame, then a small outage can be overlooked. But those first few months have to be smooth. Maybe not flawless, but close to it.

    It would almost be better if the free version was a trial and corporate users could get support from day one. This is just maddening. Shape up, Google.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mbaciarello ( 800433 )

      I feel for you.

      I'm trying to set up a collaborative network for a small non-profit organization. Right now, 'free (at least) as in beer' is not an option for any such tool.

      However great Gmail's interface, Google Apps is not really ready for serious corporate/pro team use IMHO.

      You may recall that up until a few days or weeks ago, members contacts were not automatically populated for new accounts--everyone had to manually fill them in for keeps. Although that was fixed, there's no way to create and propagate

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

      Its Google's fault you set everything up at virtually the last minute?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BIGELLOW ( 970109 )

      That makes little to no sense. It sounds to me that, in general, you are just second-guessing using technology at all.

      Think about it.

      Imagine there was some sort of known flaw in Outlook, Exchange, or some other email-based application. Then, imagine this flaw came at a terrible time for you, right when you were dealing with an important client.

      Would your response be, "It's a stupid problem that shouldn't exist in the first place. This one niggling little incident is making me rethink software."?

      Again, it

  • by ajb44 ( 638669 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:20AM (#24634441)
    Train crashes happen much less frequently than car crashes, so trains are, on average, safer. But every single train crash is news, because more people die in an individual event than in an individual car crash.

    Cloud apps have the same problem. When google apps or EC2 go does, it's news.

  • irrational (Score:2, Informative)

    by speedtux ( 1307149 )

    The amount of downtime each individual user experiences from their local Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office installations is far higher than the few hours per year people may experience with hosted apps.

    • Ah, I see, Microsoft's paid corporate moderators are in full force again.

      I'm not being sarcastic, though: add up the number of hours you spend installing, upgrading, and maintaining Windows and Office locally, and compare it with Google's downtime. In fact, just waiting for Microsoft Office to load probably adds up to more downtime.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wertigon ( 1204486 )

      That's true, but there's another side to it; imagine a company with 500 employees. Each employee has their own workstation. Now imagine 1% of those are down constantly. That means five employees will, at any given moment, not be able to perform any work. That's an annoyance, but if a workstation is down for on average 1 hour, then it's still ok.

      Now, the important thing to remember here; It's never the same five employees suffering from downtime, and the company as a whole still keeps doing what it does best

  • Give me a break (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DustoneGT ( 969310 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:22AM (#24634467)
    In my company Google Apps is the most reliable thing we use. Microsoft products are my biggest headache. We have clients that need their work done and I don't have any more time to waste on these crappy machines. We will be switching to Apple for all mission-critical machines in the next three weeks.

    If my MS computers could have only 3 hours of downtime a quarter I would be really happy. I used to work for an IT company and they primarily used MS servers for their clients. Big mistake. MS products are a nightmare. Their clients would have been happy with 3 hours of downtime instead of days and days down dealing with MS server issues. I would only avoid cloud computing if there were serious concerns with privacy or hacking.
  • [] []

    If MS really gets on the band wagon, they will be in the same boat as the other providers. In fact it will be worse due to their lack of institutional competence and the fact that they will be charging $$$$$$ for the service. If one copy of Word crashes, no problem. If an entire large companies version of Word crashes then it won't be long before people start screaming bloody

    • The IW article you reference was from 2005 dude. You can try out hosted Exchange, SharePoint etc. today at []. Their pricing is pricing is pretty competitive. For a basic version of Exchange Online mail they charege $3/user/month. A suite that includes Exchange, SharePoint, IM and LiveMeeting is $15/user/month. They provide SLA's on everything, not just mail like Google does with GMAIL. They also provide https support for everything vs. Google which only uses https for GMAIl.
  • by slk ( 2510 ) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:52AM (#24634711)

    The sign-up page for Google Apps Premier says you get 99.9% uptime. That's about 1/3 of a day downtime per year, or a couple of hours per quarter.

    Google seems to be managing to hit that 99.9% uptime, just not exceed it. VERY few in-house e-mail systems actually manage 99.9% uptime, especially when you consider scheduled maintenance and downtime (remember, Google's 99.9% is for all downtime)

    In fact, I have seen very few Exchange systems that manage much more than 99% uptime. However, for those organizations, there are other compelling advantages to Exchange.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      99.99 uptime isn't that hard to hit, we've managed it over the last 2 years in our Lotus Notes environment and now that we have clustering to our DR site fully configured we should easily get 99.999+% uptime. The only downtime we have had in the last 2 years was caused by a bad dat update from our AV vendor that made the systems extremely slow but still answering user requests, took us a while before we pulled the plug on production and had them fail over to DR.
  • Why blame Google ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @11:00AM (#24634767) Homepage

    I love being the asshole, but let's be honest here: how many in-house systems actually deliver better uptime than Google ?

    Not that many. If they did, all us sysadmins would be out of a job. Apps are not perfect. The fact that you can pay Google a few pennies to manage your email, even with some downtime, makes it several orders of magnitude cheaper than an in-house solution for most people.

    Give them a break, people can survive without email for a few hours.

  • Migrated in Dec 2007 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2008 @11:00AM (#24634775)

    I migrated my company of 80 users to Google Apps hosted email about a year ago, and yeah, sometimes there has been interimitent issues. People want to use it like Exchange via IMAP, but there are quirky issues, like Thunderbird sending the wrong delete command, Thunderbird somehow corrupting the user's password (the only way to correct is to login to the user's account on the hosted Gmail site), etc. So there definitely are some quirks sometimes.

    That said, it's free. Somebody a few posts back posted the cost of an RHEL install with server costs etc. Using Exchange, the price increases even moreso (license costs, CALs, etc.). Ultimately, you're getting a hosted, web-based email solution with the capability for shared calendars and document collaboration, all for absolutely $0.00.

    Free vs. $20k+ solution? In my oh-so-humble-opinion, users can deal with (and quite frankly, should continue to periodically expect) some downtime.

  • just host them in your own datacenter, not at google. This makes administration and scaling pretty much effortless, I would think. I assume that google sells an appliance for exactly this? If not they are missing a huge opportunity.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm a professional writer and a recent convert to Google apps. I've been using Gmail since its inception for my business and personal email, and have recently been investigating using Google Docs. The word processor started off as little more than a text editor but nowadays is pretty balanced in terms of features.

    The main benefit is that it's all cross-platform, and I haven't got to worry about where my docs are stored (no messing about with a USB key stick, for example). I can access my work from any compu

  • is in-site and outsource. failed in house tech tends to put alot of pressure on the in house support staff hired to maintain the tech, but im thinking most management is wondering if they could withstand the black eye of losing something like this if they hosted it at google

    this would be much less of a concern if they open sourced the entire group of apps, and offered hosting as an option. IT Managers could evaluate it on a more level cost benefit ground.

    i guess another question, is this really som
  • Unlike in search, hosted services for businesses is an area where Google is going to be playing catch-up with Microsoft for a long time. Google is attractive to individuals and some small businesses and a very small number of bleeding edge companies but most will choose to either stick with their on-premises software or will look to vendors like MSFT and IBM who have more enterprise experience. Microsoft is offering a "beta" of hosted versions of Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications (IM, presence) an
  • Based on my own personal experiences with dealing with google, I would never trust anything besides their search engine... If you have ever tried to make contact with google staff about a real issue, you'll soon notice there is no customer service, no help desk, you will be greeted by an arrogant 16-year-old who tells you to goto the site to resolve whatever issue you're calling about. Also, if you've ever tried using Google Checkout (what a joke), they put arbitrary holds on the money and attem
  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:11PM (#24636831)

    ... but rather a big win for locally installed and controlled "personal software", as well as - HOPEFULLY - another loss for the evil forces of greed trying to indoctrinate users to the concept of a software subscription model.

    Selling software as a subscription is the REAL reason why companies like Microsoft, Google, and so many others are experimenting with Web apps. It's their latest attempt to re-brand software as "content" and convince people to pay for it every month, just like they do cable TV. If they succeed, software publishers will be making far more profit than they do now, and their accountants will be boastful about how regular and predictable the cashflow is.

    Just say no to Web apps and every other attempt to sell software as subscriptions.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen