Google outages should raise red flag for enterprises

Total outages were no more than minutes but had a wide impact

The outages of Gmail, Google Drive, Google Chrome and other Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) services earlier this week should raise a red flag for enterprises.

On Monday, users of Gmail, Google Drive, Chat, Calendar, Play and the Chrome browser all experienced service disruptions. Google blamed the disruptions on a "routine update" of the load balancing software that "routes the millions of users' requests to Google data centers around the world for processing," Google explained in an incident report.

"A bug in the software update caused it to incorrectly interpret a portion of Google data centers as being unavailable… some services, including Gmail, that require specific data center information to efficiently route users' requests, experienced a partial outage," the report explained.

Total outages were no more than minutes, but they had a wide impact. Up to 40 percent of Gmail users were unable to access their accounts, the report said.

These types of service disruptions can have a major impact on enterprise productivity, warned Brian Proffitt in an article for ReadWrite. "Here we have a situation where a change was made to complex software in the cloud and it immediately rippled right out to users," Proffitt wrote.

"To an enterprise IT shop, which should (and usually does) test the heck out of any software before releasing anything to production, this is the opposite of what should happen. Enterprise procurement and configuration is often months behind the consumer market precisely because they don't want cutting-edge software in the building to torque their employee's machines," he opined.

In its report, Google said it would implement additional safeguards for updates to the load balancer system. The company is considering a multi-step release process to test updates at one location before a general rollout. "The unique nature of load balancing systems makes this more difficult than with other software components," the report noted.

Enterprise IT managers around the world are wondering why such a multi-step process was not already in place for such a unique and crucial system.

For more:
- check out Google's incident report
- read Proffitt's article

Related articles:
Google's Schmidt: Android winning the mobile war against Apple
Google tries to make Gmail more enterprise-friendly