Posted by: Rob Hof on May 14, 2009
UPDATE: Google has now explained, sort of, what happened on the company blog:
This is your pilot speaking. Now, about that holding pattern…
5/14/2009 12:15:00 PM
Imagine if you were trying to fly from New York to San Francisco, but your plane was routed through an airport in Asia. And a bunch of other planes were sent that way too, so your flight was backed up and your journey took much longer than expected. That’s basically what happened to some of our users today for about an hour, starting at 7:48 am Pacific time.
An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. As a result, about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions. We’ve been working hard to make our services ultrafast and “always on,” so it’s especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens. We’re very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we’ll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won’t happen again. All planes are back on schedule now.
Posted by Urs Hoelzle, SVP, Operations
Tom Krazit at CNET has a fuller explanation from someone at McAfee, though not confirmed by Google.
The original post:
Widespread reports of outages of various Google services surfaced this morning, including its core search service. Google has acknowledged the problems, which appear to have happened worldwide. The company didn’t add any details on what the problem was, but said in a statement that it had been resolved. As it said on its Twitter account:
The issue affecting some Google services has been resolved. We’re sorry for the inconvenience, and we’ll share more details soon.
The rapid reports of outages on many blogs and on the microblogging service Twitter—where the No. 2 “top trending topic” is currently “#googlefail,” are a sign of how central Google has become to anyone who works online. While outages of its services are relatively rare, there have been others in recent months, including a major one for Gmail in February.
I didn’t personally experience the outages, despite trying several Google services. So the problems, while clearly widespread, didn’t affect all Google users by any means. ZDNet’s Larry Dignan also reports packet losses affecting Google, meaning data was not getting delivered as expected.
In any case, as Google itself has pointed out, this is quite embarrassing for the company. And while it’s doubtful the outage in itself will have a significant impact on the company’s core search business, Google can’t afford too many of these if it’s to make something of its corporate applications business.